Paul L. Caron
Dean




Monday, September 26, 2022

Raskolnikov Presents Should Only The Richest Pay More Taxes? Today At UC-Irvine

Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia) presents Should Only the Richest Pay More? at UC-Irvine today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium:

Alex_raskolnikov_0This paper challenges the leading academic, political, and cultural narrative supporting greater redistribution. The narrative holds that redistribution should come at the expense of a very restricted group of the highest earners: the one percent, the super-rich, the billionaire class. I argue that many reasons offered in support of this view also call for redistribution from a much broader group that includes the affluent—those with incomes in the ninetieth to ninety ninth percentiles of the distribution. Whether one looks at the recent trends in income concentration, wealth concentration, social mobility, economic growth, political polarization, or the rise of populism, the affluent are as great—and sometimes greater—contributors to these problems as those in the top one percent. Remarkably, contemporary legal and economic scholarship has ignored the affluent almost completely, greatly limiting the magnitude of possible economic transfers as well the forms that these transfers may take.

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September 26, 2022 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

Legal Ed News Roundup

Neves & Semmler Present A Proposal For A Carbon Wealth Tax Today At Loyola-L.A.

Jose Pedro Bastos Neves (The New School) & Willi Semmler (The New School) presents A Proposal for a Carbon Wealth Tax: Modelling, Empirics, and Policy at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium hosted by Theodore Seto:

Bastos-neves-semmlerAlthough economists widely advocate carbon pricing as an effective solution to reduce carbon emissions, this mechanism has had so far limited effects. This paper proposes a new type of tax to help finance (and accelerate) the green transition. The “carbon assets” tax would be levied on carbon-intensive (brown) wealth rather than carbon-intensive goods. We consider tax implementation issues such as tax base, incidence, and efficiency. Moreover, we analyze the impacts of such a tax scheme by setting up a model of asset pricing and dynamic portfolio decisions. Green and carbon-intensive returns used in the model are calibrated with low-frequency returns on stock prices between 2010 and 2021.

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September 26, 2022 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

Richmond And UC-Hastings Law Schools Remove Names With Racist Pasts

ABC 8 News, University of Richmond Renames Law School:

Richmond (2018)The name of a businessman who owned slaves will no longer be on the University of Richmond Law School, according to an announcement.

The name T.C. Williams will be removed from the University of Richmond Law School, adhering to the university’s naming principals which prohibit the school from naming buildings, programs, professorships or other entities for a person who directly engaged in trafficking and/or enslavement of others of openly advocated for the enslavement of people.

University of Richmond president Kevin Hallock and the Board of Trustees announced the name change to members of the UR community via email just after 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23. ...

The email explained the university’s board voted unanimously to change the official name of the law school from the T.C. Williams School of Law, which it has held since 1920, to the University of Richmond School of Law.

The nine-paragraph message detailed T.C. Williams’ connection to the university as a student at Richmond College from 1846 to 1849, a trustee from 1881 until his death in 1889 and a donor who helped establish the School of Law. William’s descendants also served on the board.

The email included research garnered from legal documents that showed Williams, who owned a tobacco businesses in the area, enslaved dozens of people to work for the business and serve him in his personal life.

Chancellor & Dean David Faigman, Statement on Governor Signing AB 1936:

UC-Hastings (San Francisco) (2022)I write to you today with further updates on our name change journey since my last message on July 27th. In August, Assembly Bill 1936 successfully passed in both the California Senate and Assembly with resounding support. In fact, there were zero “no” votes in either house. This bill allows us to legally change the name of the College and reaffirm our commitment to restorative justice initiatives with the California tribes most impacted by the acts of our founder and first dean, Serranus Hastings.

Today, Governor Newsom signed the bill, with an effective date of January 1, 2023. ...

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September 26, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Lesson From The Tax Court: Honor The Corporate Fiction

Camp (2021)A corporation has no soul to be damned and no body to be kicked.  So supposedly said Baron Thurlow long, long ago.  It is but a  legal fiction.  It’s not the Borg (which is science fiction, not legal fiction).

The fictional nature of corporations creates all kinds of gnarly problems in criminal law, in constitutional law and, as we learn today, in tax law.  When I was in practice my clients often confused their personal selves with the closely held corporate doppelganger I created for them.  They repeatedly ignored the corporate fiction.  They were the kings of their empires and, like Louis XIV, they felt they were the corporation and the corporation was them.  I am sure many readers can relate to that!

In John E. Vorreyer and Melissa D. Vorreyer, et al. v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2022-97 (Sept. 21, 2022) (Judge Greaves) two of the “et al” taxpayers ignored the corporate fiction to their detriment: they paid debts of their S Corporation from their personal funds and attempted to deduct those payments on their personal income tax returns as a §162 deduction. While the payments were in fact ordinary and necessary expenses for the carrying on a farm business, the corporate fiction prevented the taxpayers from taking the deduction on their individual returns.  It was not their farm business.  It was their corporation's.  Details below the fold. 

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September 26, 2022 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

University Of Toronto Hosts Premiere Of The A.I. Taxman Documentary

University of Toronto Faculty of Law News, The AI Taxman: U of T Law Prof is the Subject of an Educational Documentary:

As an expert in taxation law, University of Toronto Professor Benjamin Alarie, the Osler Chair in Business Law at U of T’s Faculty of Law, set on a path several years ago to change how legal research is done.

In 2015, he co-founded a legal tech startup with U of T Law professors Anthony Niblett and Albert Yoon. Blue J’s software draws upon artificial intelligence to provide instant and comprehensive answers in complex areas of tax, labour, and employment law.

“Artificial intelligence is not going to take your job – professionals who use artificial intelligence will replace professionals who don't use artificial intelligence,” says Alarie in the trailer to the Canadian documentary, The A.I. Taxman.

The film will have its big screen premiere at the Isabel Bader Theatre on September 29 [free registration here]. The event is co-hosted by Blue J, the filmmakers, UDocs, and the University of Toronto’s Future of Law Lab at the Faculty of Law. ...

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September 26, 2022 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 25, 2022

NY Times Op-Ed: Parents, Dementia, Memory, And God

New York Times Op-Ed:  Our Memory Is Flawed. Luckily, God’s Isn’t., by Tish Harrison Warren (Priest, Anglican Church; Author, Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep (2021) (Christianity Today's 2022 Book of the Year)):

Warren 3Mom is in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She knows who we are and remembers everyone’s names. She can tell you who her third-grade teacher was, but not what happened a week ago or a month ago or 10 minutes ago. ... I wonder in the months and years to come what she will continue to remember about her life, about who she used to be.

Memory, for all of us, speaks to our inherent limitations. Forgetting is part of what it is to be human. That becomes more evident when facing Alzheimer’s. But even for those of us who do not have dementia, almost all of our days have faded from view.

What was I doing three years ago today? Or five? Or ten? What conversations did I have? Who was I with? Did I find joy or discouragement that day? I have no idea. I can only tell you the broad outline: where I lived, where I worked, how old I was. The details — those invaluable and ordinary conversations, coincidences and choices that make up each day of our lives — are lost to time. There are, of course, beautiful memories that we hold onto, moments that glow amber in our minds. And dark moments that we may rather erase. But even our most precious days may eventually be forgotten. ...

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September 25, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Inazu: The Life We're Looking For

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), The Life We're Looking For:

Life 3Last week, I participated in a public dialogue organized by The Carver Project with my friends Andy Crouch, Tish Harrison Warren, and Michael Wear. We focused on Andy’s new book, The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World. Following Andy's framing comments, the rest of us applied the book to the three areas of The Carver Project’s mission: university (me), church (Tish), and society (Michael). We had all read Andy’s book, but none of us had much of an idea of what the others were going to say. Yet it all seemed to work. And I think it worked because we trusted each other. ...

These themes of friendship and trust called to mind Tish’s recent New York Times piece on marriage [I Married The Wrong Person, And I’m So Glad I Did]. Tish shares vulnerable reflections on her own marriage including fights with her husband and lots of counseling, noting that at times they stayed married “sheerly as a matter of religious obedience and for the sake of our children.” ... [S]he offers an alternative to the cultural trend:  "I don’t give a lot of marriage advice. But I want to simply offer that choosing to stay in a marriage for all kinds of unromantic reasons is a good and even a brave choice."

The New York Times Twitter crowd was not pleased with Tish’s suggestion. ...

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September 25, 2022 in Faith | Permalink

Cardozo Law School Fights Fallout From Yeshiva University LGBT Club Case

Following up on last Sunday's post, Supreme Court (5-4) Denies Yeshiva University Request To Block State Ruling On Recognition Of LGBTQ Club; Yeshiva Responds By Canceling All Student Groups:  Reuters, Cardozo Law Fights Fallout From Yeshiva University LGBT Club Case:

Yeshiva Pride LogoThe Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law is taking steps to distance itself from the policies of its parent institution Yeshiva University, after Yeshiva's legal efforts to block an undergraduate LGBT student group reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

More than 50 Cardozo law faculty have signed a letter opposing the university's ban, and the law school is launching a six-week course devoted to the LGBT civil rights movement, which it announced to students as the Supreme Court was weighing the case.

"Cardozo Law School will continue to support our LGBTQ+ students, faculty, administrators and alumni fully and without reservation," Cardozo spokesperson John DeNatale said on Monday. He declined to comment on the Yeshiva litigation.

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September 25, 2022 in Faith, 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 #2:

  1. SSRN Logo (2018)[308 Downloads]  The Passthrough Entity Tax Scandal, by Daniel Hemel (NYU; Google Scholar) (reviewed by David Elkins (Netanya; visiting NYU 2021-23; Google Scholar) here)
  2. [178 Downloads]  Computation of the Effective Tax Rate and the 'Top-up Tax', by Valentin Bendlinger (Vienna University of Economics & Business) & Georg Kofler (Vienna University of Economics & Business; Google Scholar)
  3. [174 Downloads]  Standing On the Shoulders of LLCs: The Tax Entity Status and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, by Samuel D. Brunson (Loyola-Chicago; Google Scholar)
  4. [165 Downloads]  The Abandonment of International College Athletes by NIL Policy, by Victoria Haneman (Creighton; Google Scholar) & David Weber (Creighton; Google Scholar)
  5. [138 Downloads]  International Tax Reform: Challenges to Multilateral Cooperation, by Assaf Harpaz (Drexel; Google Scholar)

September 25, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink

Saturday, September 24, 2022

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Death Of John Donaldson (William & Mary)

Virginia Gazette, Former W&M Law Professor Remembered as a ‘Great and Good Man’:

DonaldsonFormer William & Mary law professor John Edward Donaldson, recognized nationally and throughout Virginia for his knowledge of tax law, died Tuesday after a short illness. He was 84.

Donaldson retired after a 35-year teaching career at the college in 2001 as the Ball Professor of Law. Additionally, he worked for years in various leadership capacities with the Virginia Bar Association and served two four-year terms on the James City County Board of Supervisors.

“John Donaldson was a great and good man,” said former William & Mary president and law school dean Timothy J. Sullivan, who joined the law school faculty when Donaldson was already “a respected colleague.” ...

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September 24, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax, Tax News | Permalink

Chodorow: Why Trump’s Alleged Real-Estate Shenanigans Went Too Far

Slate:  Why Trump’s Alleged Real-Estate Shenanigans Went Too Far, by Adam Chodorow (Arizona State; Google Scholar):

Slate (2022)There’s an old saying that pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered—that is, while there’s room for some playing around in the pen, the consequences could be quite severe if you go too far. Former President Donald Trump, his organization, and his three oldest children have just been accused some of some very hog-like behavior: allegedly inflating the value of his properties and overall net worth to potential lenders and insurers to get preferential interest rates. This is a civil, not criminal, suit, but New York State Attorney General Letitia James has referred the case to those responsible for enforcing federal criminal laws. Until now—with a few exceptions, like Trump University—Trump has avoided consequences for a variety of supposed wrongs. But the sheer scope of his allegedly false claims, and the documentary proof contained in James’ complaint, may finally have crossed that line. It should serve as an object lesson for all who are tempted to cheat the system.

Property values are difficult to assess absent a sale. Appraisers are notorious for valuing properties in ways that benefit their clients. Practically speaking, there’s some wiggle room. But at some point, valuations can be so high or low that no reasonable person could believe them to be accurate. ...

As I like to tell my law students, there is always a tax angle, and this case is no exception. As detailed in the complaint, some of the strongest evidence that Trump intentionally inflated the value of his properties—and hence his net worth—are found in claims he contemporaneously made for state property tax purposes. Not surprisingly, he gave low valuations to tax authorities, while giving much higher ones to his possible lenders. As the attorney general sees it, either he committed tax fraud by using unreasonably low valuations when dealing with tax authorities, or he committed fraud on his lenders and insurers by using valuations significantly higher than those he reported to the state and federal governments. ...

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September 24, 2022 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink

Deflect, Delay, Deny: A Case Study Of Segregation By Law School Faculty

Briana Rosenbaum (Tennessee), Deflect, Delay, Deny: A Case Study of Segregation by Law School Faculty, 90 Tenn. L. Rev. __ (2022):

Many histories of school desegregation litigation center on the natural protagonists, such as the lawyers and plaintiffs who fought the status quo. Little attention is paid to the role that individual faculty members played in the perpetuation of segregated legal education. When the antagonists in the historiographies do appear, it is usually as anonymous individuals and groups. Thus, “the Board of Regents” refused to change its policy and “the University” denied a person’s application.

But recently discovered and rarely accessed historic documents provide proof of the direct role that some law school faculty members played in the perpetuation of segregation. For example, records at the University of Tennessee College of Law (“UT Law”) reveal that several UT Law faculty members helped to design and implement UT’s segregation strategy, including by acting as legal and policy advisers to state and university officials and by organizing and executing a concerted obfuscation plan to deny black applicants based not on their race, but on “neutral” technicalities. These faculty members are honored and memorialized still today, including through a named professorship and in portraits hanging on campus walls.

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

Celebrating 50 Years Of Pepperdine's Malibu Campus

Friday, September 23, 2022

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Layser Reviews Reimagining The Tax System Through The Work Of Dorothy Day By Crawford & Afield

This week, Michelle Layser (San Diego; Google Scholar) reviews Bridget J. Crawford (Pace; Google Scholar) & W. Edward Afield (Georgia State; Google Scholar), Yesterday’s Protestor May be Tomorrow’s Saint: Reimagining the Tax System Through the Work of Dorothy Day, 76 Tax L. Rev. __(2023).

Layser (2018)

Political protests have become more frequent in recent years, but tax protests are nothing new. The Tax Revolt of the 1970s may be fresh in memory, but people have been protesting taxation since the earliest days of the Christian church. In fact, first century tax protests against the Roman Empire were so frequent that Jesus himself is said to have weighed in on the issue, telling the Pharisees they should “render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” A simplistic reading of this passage might suggest a Christian moral imperative to pay taxes. But as Professors Bridget Crawford and W. Edward Afield remind us, at least one prominent Catholic figure disagreed. Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement, made conscientious tax protest a central part of her religious practice, setting her on a path toward sainthood.

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September 23, 2022 in Michelle Layser, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Biden Administration

Next Week’s Tax Workshops

Tax Workshops (Big)Monday, September 26: Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia) will present Should Only the Richest Pay More? as part of the UC-Irvine Tax Policy Colloquium. If you would like to attend, please RSVP here

Monday, September 26: Jose Pedro Bastos Neves (The New School) & Willi Semmler (The New School) will present A Proposal for a Carbon Wealth Tax: Modelling, Empirics, and Policy as part of the Loyola-L.A. Tax Policy Colloquium. If you would like to attend, please contact Thedore Seto

Tuesday, September 27: Jennifer Taub (Western New England; Google Scholar) will present No Income Taxation Until Basic Accommodations: Toward Tax Justice in America as part of the NYU Tax Policy and Public Finance Colloquium. If you would like to attend, please contact Daniel Shaviro.

Tuesday, September 27: Roberta Mann (Oregon) will present Taxation Support for Zero-Emission Cars in Fleets: Cases from the US and Australia (with Diane Kraal (Monash; Google Scholar)) as part of the UC-Hastings Tax Speaker Series. If you would like to attend, please contact Heather Field.

Thursday, September 29: Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia) will present Should Only the Richest Pay More? as part of the Columbia Faculty Workshop.

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September 23, 2022 in Colloquia, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

Repetti Presents International Tax Policy, Manufacturing, And U.S. National Interests Today At Florida

Repetti

James R. Repetti (Boston College; Google Scholar) presents International Tax Policy, Manufacturing, and U.S. National Interests at Florida today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium hosted by Charlene Luke:

Two tax regulations that permit U.S. multinational enterprises (MNEs) to use foreign contract manufacturers and to disregard their wholly owned foreign subsidiaries have created significant tax incentives for MNEs to move manufacturing outside the U.S. These tax incentives have contributed to the loss of 5 million manufacturing jobs, the closure of more than 91,000 plants, and a decline in domestic production since 1997. These declines have increased inequality and political instability, and have decreased U.S. national security and research and development efforts to improve production techniques. Given these harms, it makes little sense to allow these incentives to remain in our tax system.

This article proposes two amendments to the regulations to reduce or eliminate the tax incentives for offshoring.

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September 23, 2022 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

BC Law School Launches Binding Early Decision Admissions Program After Notre Dame Ditched Theirs Due To Equity And Diversity Concerns

Following up on my previous post, Notre Dame Ditches Binding Early Admissions. Will Other Top 30 Law Schools Follow?:  BC Law Magazine, Early Decision Added to Admission Options:

BC Law Logo (2018)Boston College Law School has launched a new Early Decision admissions program to provide an expedited review, with special consideration that BC Law is the applicant’s first choice. ...

Early Decision is different from Early Action. The latter is a means for prospective students to apply for and receive a determination of admission in advance of a school’s regular response date, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling. No strings are attached.

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September 23, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Eldar & Garber: Opportunity Zones—A Program In Search Of A Purpose

Ofer Eldar (Duke; Google Scholar) & Chelsea Garber (J.D. Candidate 2023, Duke), Opportunity Zones: A Program In Search Of A Purpose, 102 B.U. L. Rev. 1397 (2022):

Boston University Law Review (2022)In 2017, Congress created the Opportunity Zone (“OZ”) program to stimulate economic growth in low-income communities. The program was characterized by its unprecedented scale relative to previous place-based development efforts and was described as “perhaps the most ambitious economic development tool to come out of Congress in a generation.” However, the program was quickly criticized on numerous grounds, and its design flaws are so severe that several legislators have called for its reform or repeal. 

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September 22, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Putting The Bar Exam On Constitutional Notice: Cut Scores, Race & Ethnicity, And The Public Good

Scott Johns (Denver), Putting the Bar Exam on Constitutional Notice: Cut Scores, Race & Ethnicity, and the Public Good, 45 Seattle U. L. Rev. __ (2022):

Nothing to see here. Season in and season out, bar examiners, experts, supreme courts, and bar associations seem nonplussed, trapped by what they see as the facts, namely, that the bar exam has no possible weaknesses, at least when it comes to alternative licensure mechanisms, that the bar exam is not to blame for disparate racial impacts that spring from administration of this ritualistic process, and that there are no viable alternatives in the harsh cold world of determining minimal competency for the noble purpose of protecting the public from legal harms. All a lie, of course.

But rather than challenging our assumptions, state bar associations and bar examiners keep going as business as usual. We might even say that it’s just the cost of doing business. Yes, some bar applicants will pay the price, they admit, by not passing bar exams, but protecting the public good demands that we be demanding, that we not yield to temptation to soften our approach. We can never be too cautious when it comes to protecting the public. After all, the public good is at risk. Or is it?

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September 22, 2022 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Countering Complexity's Corporate Bias: Tax Simplification As A Strategy To Reduce Profit Shifting In The African Extractive Sector

Tim Hirschel-Burns (J.D. 2022, Yale), Note, Countering Complexity's Corporate Bias: Tax Simplification as a Strategy to Reduce Profit Shifting in the African Extractive Sector, 47 Yale J. Int'l L. 165 (2022):

Logo-Yale-Journal-ILDespite their immense natural resource wealth and their intense need for revenue, African governments collect little revenue from the extractive sector. One significant reason for this revenue shortfall is that multinational corporations operating in the extractive sector use profit shifting strategies to artificially reduce their tax bills. These companies can typically afford large numbers of highly skilled lawyers and accountants. In contrast, African tax authorities are often highly under-resourced and undertrained. This Note argues that legal reforms that simplify tax administration would put African tax authorities and multinational corporations on a more level playing field.

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September 22, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Doug Shackelford Abruptly Retires As UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Dean: ‘I’m Very Tired’

Triangle Business Journal, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Searching For New Leader After Shackelford Abruptly Retires:

Shackleford (2022)After nearly a decade in the role, Doug Shackelford has suddenly stepped down as the dean of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Shackelford's abrupt retirement is effective today following the university announcing the move on Friday afternoon. A specific reason for the timing of the decision was not given. ...

Shackelford's retirement comes a few weeks after a former UNC-Chapel Hill student, Angelica Rose Brown, filed a lawsuit against three Kenan-Flagler professors and the UNC Board of Governors alleging race discrimination and retaliation. Shackelford is not mentioned in the lawsuit, which was filed Aug. 30 in the U.S. District Court for North Carolina’s Middle District.

The Daily Tar Heel reports that in a letter sent to faculty and staff Friday morning, Shackelford said, "I have run as hard as I could for as long as I could. I can’t continue at the pace this School deserves. I regret that I didn’t anticipate things better. I could tell that I was not recovering from long weeks as quickly as I had in the past and I was unduly frustrated at times, but I failed to foresee this timing." ...

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September 22, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink

NY Times Op-Ed: Can Republicans Tax the Rich?

New York Times Op-Ed:  Can Republicans Tax the Rich?, by Ross Douthat:

ConservatismThe movement known as national conservatism, which just wrapped up its latest conference in Florida, is the third major attempt to solve the Republican Party’s central 21st-century policy dilemma: How does a party that historically represented the rich and big business adapt to a world where conservatism’s constituencies are not just middle class but blue-collar, downscale and disappointed with the modern American economy?

The first attempted adaptation belonged to George W. Bush. His slogans were “compassionate conservatism” and the “ownership society,” and his policies offered new spending on education and health care, support for faith-based anti-poverty programs and easy credit for new homeowners — all theoretically designed to foster self-sufficiency rather than dependence, building a conservative alternative to the liberal welfare state.

After Bushism came to grief in the housing bubble and the financial crisis, the second adaptation had its hour: so-called reform conservatism, which imagined itself (I was one of the imaginers) as harder-headed than Bushism, offering a suite of technocratic fixes to increase economic mobility and improve middle-class life — and especially middle-class family life — without blowing out the federal budget.

This budget-conscious wonkery seemed poised to influence a Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio administration — before it was simultaneously outbid, absorbed and shattered by Donald Trump. ...

National conservatism represents the fullest version of this effort. It’s more philosophically ambitious than its compassionate-conservative and reformocon predecessors; its impresario, Yoram Hazony, claims to have rediscovered a consistent non-liberal and non-authoritarian Anglo-American conservatism, rooted in our elite’s long-discarded conservative-Protestant heritage, an argument he advances fascinatingly, if not entirely persuasively, in his recent book, “Conservatism: A Rediscovery.”

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September 22, 2022 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink

Former Texas Southern Dean Sues Law School Over Loss Of Tenure

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Houston Chronicle, Former Texas Southern University Law School Dean Sues School Over Loss of Tenure:

BullockTexas Southern University’s former law school dean sued her ex-employer in federal court Wednesday, alleging that she was stripped of her position and tenure without cause.

Joan R. M. Bullock has also accused the university of breaching her contract and retaliating for bringing to the president and provost “matters of public concern” — including ones that she said could potentially affect the school’s ability to remain accredited.

“This affects me in a dramatic way,” Bullock said. “I believe in (Texas Southern’s) mission and its goals, and now it is putting me in an awkward position in looking for other employment. I think it is highly unfair what they have done.” ...

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Guttentag: Law, Taxes, Inequality, And Surplus

Michael Guttentag (Loyola-L.A.; Google Scholar), Law, Taxes, Inequality, and Surplus, 102 B.U. L. Rev. 1329 (2022):

I Boston University Law Review (2022)n this contribution to the Boston University Law Review Symposium on Law, Markets, and Distribution, I introduce an important new exception to the presumption that the tax system is superior to the legal system as a tool to redistribute wealth. When legal rules are used to divvy up a surplus, there is no a priori reason to prefer the tax-and-transfer system over the legal system to address inequality. This is the “surplus-sharing exception.”

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

Explicit Instruction In Legal Education: Boon Or Spoon?

Beth A. Brennan (Montana), Explicit Instruction in Legal Education: Boon or Spoon?, 52 U. Mem. L. Rev. 1 (2021): 

While legal education unquestionably hones students’ critical thinking skills, it also privileges students who are faster readers and have prior background knowledge or larger working memories. According to the prevailing mythology of law school pedagogy, students learn by struggling to find their way out of chaos. Only then is their learning deep enough to permit them to engage in critical thinking and legal reasoning.

Learning theory and research suggest this type of “inquiry” learning is not an effective way to introduce novice learners to a subject. Lacking basic substantive and procedural knowledge, students’ struggles are often unproductive and dispiriting.

Initial explicit instruction early in a student’s learning more predictably creates stable, accurate knowledge. Because higher-order thinking depends on having some knowledge, ensuring students have a strong foundation of substantive and procedural knowledge increases the likelihood that they will develop critical thinking skills.

However, legal education uniformly dismisses anything that looks like “spoon-feeding.” If the academy is going to incorporate learning theory into its pedagogy, it must understand and articulate the differences between spoon-feeding and explicit instruction.

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September 21, 2022 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

ESG, Crypto, And What Does The IRS Got To Do With It?

Nizan Geslevich Packin (CUNY; Google Scholar) & Sean Stein Smith (CUNY; Google Scholar), ESG, Crypto, and What Does the IRS Got to Do With It?, 6 Stan. J. Blockchain L. & Pol'y ___ (2023):

Stanford-journal-blockchain-law-and-policyRegulation almost always lags behind innovation, and this is also the situation with many FinTech-based products and services, and particularly those offered by crypto industry players. The crypto sector is a new and innovative one, which has proven to be not only based on highly technical concepts, but also by high levels of volatility and financial risk. In attempting to understand how to address many of the issues it raises in legal fields ranging from to financial regulation such as tax requirements to environmental law, and specifically matters that relate to climate change and energy wasting, regulators often find themselves trying to implement existing legal frameworks rather than creating new, clear rules. Much has been written about the SEC’s regime of regulation by enforcement of the crypto industry, and the impact of this type of rulemaking on society, businesses and persons. However, other financial regulators adopting a similar style of rulemaking—such as the IRS—have gotten much less attention for the impact of their regulatory actions. One such notable example, which is relevant in the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) awareness era, relates to the unintended consequences of the IRS’ regulation by enforcement, given the impact that such new rules have on the transition to greener energy. 

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

Tax Prof Moves, 2020-23

Here is a list of (1) visiting assistant professor hires; (2) entry-level hires; (3) lateral moves; (4) promotions, tenures, chairs, and professorships; (5) administrative appointments: (6) visits; and (7) retirements involving tax professors in 2016-2020. (Email me any omissions.) 

MovesVAP Hires

Entry Level Hires

Lateral Moves

Promotions, Tenures, Chairs, and Professorships

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September 21, 2022 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink

Johnson: Congressional Primacy, Equitable Tolling, And Tax Court Deficiency Litigation

Steve R. Johnson (Florida State), Congressional Primacy, Equitable Tolling, and Tax Court Deficiency Litigation, 77 Tax Law. __ (2023):

Tax-lawyerIn April 2022, in the Boechler case, the Supreme Court considered the nature of the statutory deadline for filing petitions to obtain Tax Court review in collection due process (“CDP”) cases. The Court held that the statutorily prescribed 30-day filing period is not jurisdictional and is subject to nonstatutory equitable tolling in “appropriate cases.”

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

Where Have All The (Aspiring) Law Profs Gone?

Following up on my previous post, Law School Entry-Level Faculty Hiring Is Down 22% (59% From 2008):  The Verdict Op-Ed:  Where Have All the (Aspiring) Law Profs Gone?, by Vikram Amar (Dean, Illinois) & Jason Mazzone (Illinois):

It’s law professor hiring season again, the time of year when (most of) the nation’s 200 or so ABA-accredited law schools begin the search to add to their full-time tenured/tenure-track ranks. ... Even though the in-person recruitment conference has been scrapped since the pandemic began, candidates still fill out [Faculty Appointments Register (FAR)] forms, and hiring committees still comb through the entries in order to set up screening interviews (often virtual) to help schools decide which candidates to invite (and candidates to decide which invitations to accept) for full-blown multi-day on-campus visits that include “job talks” (formal presentations of academic works in front of the whole faculty), small-group faculty interviews, meetings with deans and perhaps other administrators, campus tours, and social events. ...

One trend is striking: the relatively small (and decreasing) number of FAR entries the last few years. Whereas a decade or so ago it was not uncommon to see between 1,000 and 2,000 FAR entries, this year the number will likely be (the tally isn’t yet final since there are a few separate installments over the August-October timeframe) between 300 and 400. ...

[I]t behooves all of us to think (and even speculate) a bit about what accounts for the decline. Here are a handful of possibilities:

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Bearer-Friend Presents Poll Taxes, Revisited Today At UC-Hastings

Jeremy Bearer-Friend (George Washington; Google Scholar) presents Poll Taxes, Revisited at UC-Hastings today as part of its Tax Speaker Series hosted by Heather Field and Manoj Viswanathan:

Bearer-Friend (2021)This Article revisits four poll taxes imposed by Anglophone governments in the 20th century. Two of the poll taxes in the study are explicit in their statutory language of targeting based on race, ethnicity, or ancestry, while two make no mention of their intended targets in the statutory text. As this Article demonstrates, racialized targeting persists even when poll taxes make no mention of race, ethnicity or ancestry. And because poll taxes nominally include everyone—all people with heads—their ability to target specific groups of taxpayers is even more striking. In some ways, these facially neutral poll taxes are even more effective at targeting than the poll taxes that specify their political targets explicitly.

The primary audience for this Article is other tax law scholars who may only have a stylized or cursory understanding of poll taxes. A secondary audience is those outside of tax who seek to understand poll taxes from a tax scholar's point of view.  The Article draws from the statutory text of the poll taxes, the administrative guidance issued by the enforcers of the poll taxes, and the protest materials of those liable for the poll taxes. The article deploys a comparative study of four poll taxes to then arrive at broader conclusions about poll taxes specifically and tax policy more generally.

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

Amy Wax Submits 59-Page Memo Seeking Postponement Of Penn Disciplinary Proceedings, Citing Cancer Treatment

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Daily Pennsylvanian, Amy Wax Submits Memorandum For Dismissal of Disciplinary Proceedings, Citing Cancer Treatment:

WaxAmy Wax's legal team submitted a memorandum seeking the dismissal of the ongoing University disciplinary proceedings against her on grounds of a "disabled state" from illness.

The 59-page memorandum claims that Wax — the tenured Penn Law School professor who is facing potential punishment for her inflammatory conduct — is undergoing treatment for “life-threatening” cancer, and asks for postponement of the ongoing proceedings until “at least” the end of the year. David Shapiro, Wax’s lawyer, sent the document to Faculty Senate Chair Vivian L. Gadsden, who is overseeing the proceedings, on Aug. 31:

The substantive and procedural problems with the proceedings instituted by Dean Ruger are immense and require immediate rectification before any more harm is done to the University, the Law School, Professor Wax, and other University stakeholders. As Chair of the Faculty Senate, you are “the principal executive officer” of the Senate, and you have “such powers as are appropriate to the office.” Faculty Senate Rules, Rule 4 (“Duties of the Chair”). I therefore respectfully submit this memorandum in support of Prof. Wax’s request that you, as Chair:

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

St. Thomas (FL) Seeks To Hire A Clinical Tax Professor

St. Thomas (FL) Faculty Posting:

St-thomas-lawBased on the College of Law’s primary curriculum needs we are especially interested in candidates with teaching, scholarship and research interests in the subject-matter areas of Constitutional Law, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Professional Responsibility, Property, Torts, Wills and Trusts, as well as Appellate Advocacy Clinic and Tax Clinic. ...

We are now accepting applications for start dates of January 2023 and August 2023, and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the positions are filled. Application materials must include a cover letter addressing teaching interests, a detailed research agenda, the title of the applicant’s job-talk, a C.V., preferably with links to publications, and at least three references.

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

July 2022 Florida Bar Exam Results: Florida International Is #1 For 8th Year In A Row

Florida Bar 2The July 2022 Florida bar passage rates by school are out. For the eighth year in a row, Florida International is #1. Here are the results for the 11 Florida law schools, along with each school's U.S. News ranking (Florida and overall):

Bar Pass

Rank (Rate)

 

School

US News Rank

FL (Overall)

1 (81.2%)

Florida Int'l

4 (98)

2 (78.7%)

Florida

1 (21)

3 (74.9%)

Florida State

2 (47)

4 (72.0%)

Miami 

3 (73)

5 (71.4%)

Ave Maria

Tier 2

6 (64.0%)

Stetson

5 (111)

7 (60.5%)

St. Thomas

Tier 2

8 (54.5%)

Nova

Tier 2

9 (52.6%)

Florida A&M

Tier 2

10 (49.2%)

Barry

Tier 2

11 (30.8%)

Florida Coastal

Tier 2

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September 20, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Mehrotra: Economic Inequality, American Fiscal Exceptionalism, And The Historical U.S. Resistance To National Consumption Taxes

Ajay K. Mehrotra (Northwestern; Google Scholar), The Missing U.S. Vat: Economic Inequality, American Fiscal Exceptionalism, and the Historical U.S. Resistance to National Consumption Taxes, 117 Nw. U. L. Rev. 151 (2022):

Northwestern Law Review (2022)Since the 1970s, economic inequality has soared dramatically across the globe and particularly in the United States. In that time, one of the obstacles of using fiscal policy to address inequality has been the growing myth of the “overtaxed American”—the misguided notion that U.S. taxpayers pay more in taxes than residents of other advanced, industrialized countries. This myth has persisted, in part, because of the peculiar and distinctive nature of the fractured American fiscal and social welfare state. Even a cursory review of comparative tax data shows that the United States, by most measures, is a low-tax country compared to other affluent nations. One reason for this shortfall is the missing U.S. value-added tax (VAT).

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

ABA Gives Puerto Rico Law Schools 3 Additional Years To Meet 75% Bar Pass Standard; Supreme Court Lowers Bar Exam Cut Score To Help Schools Keep Accreditation

ABA Journal, 2 of Puerto Rico's 3 Law Schools Will Get More Time to Meet Bar Pass Standard:

ABA Legal Ed (2021)Following repeated failures to show compliance with Standard 316, which requires a bar passage rate of at least 75% within two years, the ABA has given an extension of up to three years to Inter American University of Puerto Rico School of Law and Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico School of Law. ...

At Inter American, the pass rate was 60% for 2019 graduates, 55.43% for 2018 graduates, and 64.49% for 2017 graduates, according to ABA data.

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

Monday, September 19, 2022

Thomas Presents Fake News And The Tax Law Today At Loyola-L.A.

Kathleen DeLaney Thomas (North Carolina; Google Scholar) will present Fake News and the Tax Law (with Erin Scharff (Arizona State)) at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium hosted by Theodore Seto:

Thomas (2022)The public misunderstands many aspects of the tax system. For example, people frequently misunderstand how marginal tax rates work, misperceive their own average tax rates, and believe they benefit from tax deductions for which they are ineligible. Such confusion is understandable given the complexity of our tax laws. Unfortunately, research suggests these misconceptions shape voter preferences about tax policy which, in turn, impact the policies themselves.

That people are easily confused by taxes is nothing new. However, with the rise of social media platforms, the speed at which misinformation campaigns can move to shape public opinion is far faster now. The past five years have seen a dramatic shift in the landscape of false information, and scholars in a variety of disciplines, from law to psychology to journalism, have explored the increasing influence of fake news.

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

Legal Ed News Roundup

Peck: Standard Oil, Consolidated Coal, And The Roots Of The Resource Curse In West Virginia

Alison Peck (West Virginia), Standard Oil, Consolidated Coal, and the Roots of the Resource Curse in West Virginia, 124 W. Va. L. Rev. 101 (2021) (reviewed by Tracey Roberts (Cumberland; Google Scholar) here):

Despite its natural resource wealth, West Virginia today ranks last among all states in its residents’ overall sense of well-being, a puzzle that economists call “the resource curse.” Much of West Virginia’s wealth, in the form of coal, oil, and gas, left the state in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries before the state could tax it. This discouraging story was not inevitable. In 1905, a Morgantown lawyer named George C. Baker led an effort to tax coal, oil, and gas leases as personal property that nearly succeeded. Baker and his allies, Governor William M.O. Dawson and Tax Commissioner Charles W. Dillon, won a high-profile court battle in 1905 against industries that had managed to defeat hot-button tax reform efforts in the legislature the year before. While powerful Standard Oil Company was resigned to comply as it focused on more threatening battles elsewhere, the coal industry resisted. 

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

2022 Meta-Ranking Of Flagship U.S. Law Reviews

Bryce Clayton Newell (Oregon), 2022 Meta-Ranking of Flagship US Law Reviews:

This is an updated ranking of the top flagship law reviews at US law schools (updated as of September 16, 2022). For a summary and more details about method, see below the table. You can also compare MetaRanking since 2018, including changes in ranking over time here: MetaRank Comparison 2018-2022.

The MetaRank was computed by averaging ranks (using a 25% weighting from each) of the following rankings:

prRank = US News Peer Reputation score ranking (averaged over 10 years);
usnRank = overall US News school ranking (averaged over 10 years);
wluRank = Washington & Lee Law Journal Ranking;
gRank = Google Scholar Metrics ranking (note: “1000” means journal was not indexed).

Journal MetaRank prRank usnRank wluRank gRank
Harvard Law Review 1 1 3 1 1
Yale Law Journal 2 3 1 2 2
Stanford Law Review 3 2 2 3 5
Columbia Law Review 4 4 5 5 3
California Law Review 5 7 9 4 4
University of Chicago Law Review 6 5 4 12 6
University of Pennsylvania Law Review 7 9 7 6 8
New York University Law Review 8 6 6 13 9
Michigan Law Review 8 8 9 8 9
Georgetown Law Journal 10 14 14 7 9
Duke Law Journal 11 11 11 11 12
Northwestern University Law Review 12 13 12 14 16
Virginia Law Review 13 10 8 22 17
Texas Law Review 13 15 15 15 12
Vanderbilt Law Review 15 17 17 18 7
UCLA Law Review 16 16 16 10 18
Notre Dame Law Review 17 22 21 9 12
Minnesota Law Review 18 20 20 16 20
Cornell Law Review 19 12 13 23 29
Boston University Law Review 20 24 21 20 15
Southern California Law Review 21 19 19 26 27
Iowa Law Review 22 29 25 21 18
Washington University Law Review 23 18 18 29 34
Emory Law Journal 24 21 23 33 24
George Washington Law Review 25 25 24 31 23
Boston College Law Review 26 29 30 25 21
UC Davis Law Review 27 26 37 19 25
Fordham Law Review 28 34 39 17 22
William & Mary Law Review 29 33 33 24 31
Indiana Law Journal 30 32 34 27 29
North Carolina Law Review 31 23 31 35 34
Washington Law Review 32 36 38 30 28
University of Illinois Law Review 33 39 43 28 26
Wisconsin Law Review 34 27 32 39 39
Alabama Law Review 35 38 25 36 41
Ohio State Law Journal 36 31 35 37 43
Florida Law Review 37 37 41 32 38
Washington and Lee Law Review 38 41 36 44 42
Arizona State Law Journal 39 40 27 47 51
UC Irvine Law Review 40 28 28 56 55
Arizona Law Review 41 44 45 41 39
Hastings Law Journal 42 43 55 40 32
Georgia Law Review 43 35 29 43 64
Maryland Law Review 44 48 48 45 37
University of Colorado Law Review 45 42 46 46 45
Cardozo Law Review 46 53 59 34 36
Wake Forest Law Review 47 45 42 50 48
Brigham Young University Law Review 48 50 40 55 48
Utah Law Review 49 49 47 49 50
American University Law Review 50 51 77 38 32
University of Richmond Law Review 51 69 52 53 53
Houston Law Review 52 60 56 58 55
Tulane Law Review 53 46 51 73 64
Temple Law Review 54 57 54 64 64
Connecticut Law Review 55 52 57 52 83
SMU Law Review 55 65 50 74 55
George Mason Law Review 57 58 44 59 85
Denver Law Review 58 56 74 75 52
Lewis & Clark Law Review 59 86 90 42 43
Chicago-Kent Law Review 59 75 87 54 45
Georgia State University Law Review 61 64 65 80 53
University of Miami Law Review 62 54 69 81 60
Brooklyn Law Review 62 70 88 51 55
Tennessee Law Review 64 66 60 72 1000
Pepperdine Law Review 65 62 58 83 70
Nevada Law Journal 66 76 66 62 71
Case Western Reserve Law Review 67 68 67 81 61
Florida State University Law Review 68 47 49 98 85
Oklahoma Law Review 68 78 72 68 61
University of Kansas Law Review 70 67 73 85 61
Missouri Law Review 71 71 64 79 75
Seton Hall Law Review 72 88 61 69 73
Nebraska Law Review 73 84 70 78 64
Villanova Law Review 74 82 75 77 64
Penn State Law Review 75 92 68 61 80
Michigan State Law Review 76 91 92 48 75
Kentucky Law Journal 76 72 63 86 85
Buffalo Law Review 78 99 101 60 55
South Carolina Law Review 79 85 94 66 72
Seattle University Law Review 80 93 115 67 45
Loyola University Chicago Law Journal 81 73 76 89 83
Oregon Law Review 82 54 86 96 1000
San Diego Law Review 83 59 81 115 85
Saint Louis University Law Journal 83 98 91 87 64
University of Cincinnati Law Review 85 89 79 98 79
Texas A&M Law Review 86 105 100 71 1000
CUNY Law Review 87 112 122 57 1000
Hofstra Law Review 88 101 114 63 73
Marquette Law Review 89 95 103 75 80
Rutgers University Law Review 90 74 82 126 75
Santa Clara Law Review 91 80 113 70 102
Baylor Law Review 92 87 53 113 1000
Indiana Law Review 93 81 104 101 85
University of Pittsburgh Law Review 93 63 80 121 107
Arkansas Law Review 95 94 84 103 91
Loyola of L.A. Law Review 96 61 71 132 110
UMKC Law Review 97 108 117 65 91
New Mexico Law Review 97 90 83 104 1000
Louisiana Law Review 99 104 93 95 91
Syracuse Law Review 100 96 99 97 101

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September 19, 2022 in Law Review Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink

Lesson From The Tax Court:  Checks ... Still Matter

CheckWho uses paper checks anymore?  Not my kids.  My daughter even prefers to incur a surcharge for using her debit card to pay her rent rather than walking a paper check to the rental office.  The practical reason, she says, is that when she uses her debit card she can immediately see the impact on her checking account balance by looking at her “available balance” number in her banking app.  If she wrote a check, she’d have to wait until the check cleared and she fears over-drawing her account.

That delay—between the time a person writes and check and the time it gets reflected in their checking account—is what gives us our lesson in Estate of William E. Demuth Jr. et al. v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2022-72 (July 12, 2022 )(Judge Jones).  In that case the issue was the value of an investment account on the date of the decedent’s death.  On that date there were 10 checks totaling $436,000 that had been written on the account but had not cleared.  The Executor did not include that amount on the Form 706 because the recipients of the checks had deposited them before the decedent died.  Their accounts had been credited.  They had been paid.  Or so thought the Executor.  The IRS, however, thought that the checks had not been paid because they had not cleared the decedent’s bank.  So the money still belonged to the taxpayer and should have been included in the valuation of his Estate.

In (mostly) agreeing with the IRS, Judge Jones gives us a useful lesson on basic commercial law principles.  Maybe my kids won't care, but enough folks still use checks that it's a lesson worth remembering.  Details below the fold. 

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September 19, 2022 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (8)

CSI: Law School. Forensic Science In Legal Education.

Brandon L. Garrett (Duke; Google Scholar), Glinda Cooper (Yeshiva) & Quinn Beckham (Duke), Forensic Science in Legal Education, 51 J.L. & Educ. 1 (2022):

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

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Low Anthropology: The Unlikely Key To A Gracious View Of Others (And Yourself)

David Zahl (Director, Mockingbird Ministries), Low Anthropology: The Unlikely Key to a Gracious View of Others (and Yourself) (2022):

Low AnthropologyMany of us spend our days feeling like we're the only one with problems, while everyone else has their act together. But the sooner we realize that everyone struggles like we do, the sooner we can show grace to ourselves and others.

In Low Anthropology, popular author and theologian David Zahl explores how our ideas about human nature influence our expectations in friendship, work, marriage, and politics. We all go through life with an "anthropology"—an idea about what humans are like, our potentials and our limitations. A high anthropology—thinking optimistically about human nature—can breed perfectionism, anxiety, burnout, loneliness, and resentment. Meanwhile, Zahl invites readers into a biblically rooted and surprisingly life-giving low anthropology, which fosters hope, deep connection with others, lasting love, vulnerability, compassion, and happiness.

Zahl offers a liberating view of human nature, sin, and grace, showing why the good news of Christianity is both urgent and appealing. By embracing a more accurate view of human beings, readers will discover a true and lasting hope.

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September 18, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Celebrities For Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, And Profits Are Hurting The Church

Katelyn Beaty (Editorial Director, Brazos Press), Celebrities for Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, and Profits Are Hurting the Church (2022):

BeatyMany Christian leaders use their fame and influence to great effect. Whether that popularity resides at the local church level or represents national or international influence, many leaders have effectively said to their followers, "Follow me as I follow Christ." But fame that is cultivated for its own sake, without attendant spiritual maturity and accountability, has a shadow side that runs counter to the heart of the gospel. Celebrity--defined as social power without proximity--has led to abuses of power, the cultivation of persona, and a fixation on profits.

In light of the fall of famous Christian leaders in recent years, the time has come for the church to reexamine its relationship to celebrity. Award-winning journalist Katelyn Beaty explores the ways fame has reshaped the American church, explains how and why celebrity is woven into the fabric of the evangelical movement, and identifies many ways fame has gone awry in recent years. She shows us how evangelical culture is uniquely attracted to celebrity gurus over and against institutions, and she offers a renewed vision of ordinary faithfulness, helping us all keep fame in its proper place.

With insight and empathy, Katelyn Beaty diagnoses the broken patterns of leadership we see in the church. This book shows us the isolation and loneliness and abuse that can come from, and contribute to, these expectations of celebrity. But this book is no mere jeremiad. It points the way forward to renewed visions of power, accountability, and humility.
Russell Moore, chair of public theology, Christianity Today

Christianity Today Book Review, Christian Celebrity Isn’t a Problem to Fix, But an Eye to Gouge Out:

There is such a thing as making a problem too easy. And there are times where that error can yield devastating consequences.

This thought came to mind while reading Katelyn Beaty’s book Celebrities for Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, and Profits Are Hurting the Church. The book has much to admire. Beaty, a writer and former CT editor, is a keen observer of power dynamics within institutions and movements, for starters. She also is a good student of contemporary technological trends, with a well-developed understanding of how digital technology has transformed and exacerbated the problems of fame and celebrity both in the church and outside.

What’s more, I found her prudent counsel for how we might curb the worst excesses of celebrity to be wise and admirable. Her conversation partners in the final chapter are, if predictable, also wise: Henri Nouwen, Eugene Peterson, Andy Crouch, Dallas Willard.

Pulling punches
Yet for all its merits, I found the book to be ultimately too moderate in its critique. While Celebrities for Jesus is a wise book, it is also, for a certain type of evangelical, a relatively pleasant book. ... As Beaty profiles the many cases of egregious moral failure and abuse of power by Christian celebrities ranging from Mark Driscoll to Ravi Zacharias to Bill Hybels, she consistently tries to keep the fact of evangelical celebrity separate from the abuse of evangelical celebrity, holding out hope that we can have one without the other. Effectively, she holds out hope that you can have the huge online platform, get the massive six-figure book deal, enjoy the luxurious mansion, and be okay as long as you recognize the dangers of celebrity and don’t abuse your power.

In one passage she writes,

Christian leaders should always ask whether their spending signals modesty or opulence—especially to those they are ministering to. The point here is not that private jets are always evil (although, on the whole, I’d argue their problems far outweigh their temporary conveniences). Or that nice meals, second homes, and expensive clothes are always and everywhere wrong. The point here is that all these things in our time signify lavish displays of wealth. To keep the worldly lure of money in check, Christian leaders should cultivate financial modesty—and ask others to hold them accountable to it.

There is a tension between discussing problems inherent to celebrity and problems dealing with the abuse of celebrity. Teasing the two apart is seldom easy. Yet it seemed like much of the book’s rhetorical firepower was fixed on the latter rather than the former. Thus there are points where Beaty’s analysis suggests that we might avoid the pitfalls of celebrity if only the celebrities themselves would cut back on ostentation and excess, instead adopting healthier habits (and even pursuing a kind of obscurity).

But this doesn’t altogether work, as the passage above illustrates: If you have a private jet, you are being opulent. There is not a modest way of buying a private jet or, to use another example Beaty offers in that chapter, a $2,000 purse. By refusing to just say no to these displays, Beaty shrinks back from saying the hard thing and gives readers an out from the problem she’s highlighting. By pulling her punches in this way, Beaty tames the force of her critique.

Yet the fuller, more assertive version of Beaty’s critique is precisely what American evangelicals need to hear today. ...

When I survey the wreckage of evangelical celebrity, I don’t see any reason for moderation. The seeker-sensitive movement and its natural descendant, online church, is the evangelical version of the eye that we must gouge out and cast into the fire before it condemns our entire movement to those flames. Yet Beaty seems hesitant to go there. Even as she ends the book she writes, “To be sure, screens are not inherently evil, nor are large churches, social media platforms, or charismatic personalities.” ...

It’s possible I am wrong, of course, and that calling on Christian leaders to distance themselves from social media, break up their megachurches into smaller neighborhood parishes, and fully repudiate the lavish lifestyles of Hillsong preachers is asking too much. But when I survey the American church today, I see no reason to think celebrity of any sort should be preserved. And I see many reasons to think it’s leading us to hell.

Editor's Note:  If you would like to receive a weekly email each Sunday with links to the faith posts on TaxProf Blog, email me here.

September 18, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Supreme Court (5-4) Denies Yeshiva University Request To Block State Ruling On Recognition Of LGBTQ Club; Yeshiva Responds By Canceling All Student Groups

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Wall Street Journal, Supreme Court Declines Yeshiva University’s Bid to Deny Recognition of Gay Student Group:

Yeshiva Pride LogoThe Supreme Court on Wednesday denied Yeshiva University’s emergency request to block New York state court orders requiring it to recognize an LGBT student club, but left room for the Orthodox Jewish institution to object again in future proceedings.

The YU Pride Alliance and several students sued the university in state court last year after administrators refused to recognize the undergraduate group as an official student club.

A trial judge, finding Yeshiva’s position violated New York City’s Human Rights Law, ordered it to recognize the Pride Alliance on the same terms as other student clubs. After state appellate courts declined to block the ruling’s implementation while the university appealed, Yeshiva filed an emergency motion asking the Supreme Court to intervene.

Last Friday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees the judicial circuit including New York, granted a temporary stay while the justices weighed the request.

The Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, lifted that stay Wednesday and said in an order that Yeshiva had yet to exhaust its options in the state court system [Yeshiva University v. YU Pride Alliance, No. 22A184 (Sept. 14, 2022)]. ... Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Ketanji Brown Jackson were in the majority.

New York Times, Yeshiva University Halts All Student Clubs to Block L.G.B.T.Q. Group:

Yeshiva University abruptly announced on Friday that it had placed all undergraduate club activities on hold, the latest maneuver in the legal battle by the Modern Orthodox Jewish institution to keep from recognizing an L.G.B.T.Q. student group.

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September 18, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink