Paul L. Caron
Dean


Monday, September 28, 2020

Lipman: Pro Bono Matters On the Basis of Sex

Francine J. Lipman (UNLV), Pro Bono Matters On the Basis of Sex, 164 Tax Notes Fed. 1037 (Aug. 12, 2019):

On-the-basis-of-sexThe movie On the Basis of Sex begins on the testosterone-dominated stairs of Harvard Law School, to the booming blare of “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard,” the still-popular Harvard fight song. Framed by the equal partnership that is Kiki and Marty Ginsburgs’ true-love story, the movie chronicles now Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s methodical path to overturning laws that discriminated on the basis of sex. Central to the movie is a pro bono tax case. This essay describes the tax case and why pro bono mattered so very much to the taxpayer, Charles E. Moritz, a 63 year-old bachelor living in Denver with his mother, Mrs. B.E. Moritz. Mrs. Moritz was 89 and in poor health, suffering from arthritis, loss of hearing, lapses of memory, and other senior ailments. Mr, Moritz cared for his mother by paying for care in his home. He filed his tax return claiming a tax benefit that was statutorily not allowed for unmarried men. Mr. Moritz went to the U.S. Tax Court and lost. Marty Ginsburg, a renowned tax attorney, read the decision and handed the written transcript over to his wife, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg sought to represent Mr. Moritz on his appeals a pro bono basis. Pro bono tax mattered deeply to Charles and his mother and, in turn, it jump-started a successful litigation strategy that in time lead to the U.S. Supreme Court finding that discrimination on the basis of sex was unconstitutional.

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September 28, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Trump's Tax Returns — Chronic Losses, Years Of Tax Avoidance

New York Times, Long-Concealed Records Show Trump's Chronic Losses and Years of Tax Avoidance:

The Times obtained Donald Trump’s tax information extending over more than two decades, revealing struggling properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle and hundreds of millions in debt coming due.

Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.

He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.

As the president wages a re-election campaign that polls say he is in danger of losing, his finances are under stress, beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed. Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million.

The tax returns that Mr. Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public. His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes. Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.

The New York Times has obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his first two years in office. It does not include his personal returns for 2018 or 2019. This article offers an overview of The Times’s findings; additional articles will be published in the coming weeks.

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September 28, 2020 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lesson From The Tax Court: State Law Matters

Tax Court (2020)My wife has spent her COVID time organizing efforts to celebrate Earth Day next April in our fair city of Lubbock, Texas.  Her efforts are paying off.  She and her colleagues are now to the point where they need to operate through a tax-exempt entity.  Well-meaning friends tell her “oh, it’s easy, just go fill out some forms and submit them to the IRS.”  Those friends think that forming a nonprofit entity is a one-step process, done at the federal level.  They do not realize that it is a two-step process: one must first form the entity under state law and then ask for tax-exemption from the IRS.  Today we learn that the choice of entity formation will affect the federal tax treatment of that entity.

In Clinton Deckard v. Commissioner, 155 T.C. No. 8 (Sept. 17, 2020) (Judge Thornton), the effect of state law was to preclude the taxpayer from electing S Corporation status.  There Mr. Deckard formed a nonprofit corporation under Kentucky law but soon started operating it for profit.  After a couple of years of losses, he tried to elect S Corporation status for the entity so he could pass through and deduct those losses.  Judge Thornton held he was bound to the corporate form he had created under Kentucky law.  State law matters.  Details below the fold. 

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September 28, 2020 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

34 Law Professors Weigh In On Amy Coney Barrett's Nomination

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September 28, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Garvey: Here’s What People Get Wrong About Amy Coney Barrett's Faith

Washington Post op-ed:  I Taught and Worked With Amy Coney Barrett. Here’s What People Get Wrong About Her Faith., by John Garvey (President, Catholic University):

Barrett (2020)I first met Amy Coney Barrett from behind a veil of academic anonymity.

I was teaching a First Amendment class at Notre Dame Law School. She was a student, just a face in the crowd. On the final exam, someone — the bluebooks were anonymous — had written an answer so impressive that I rushed to share it with one of my colleagues. This student, I said, gave a response to my own question much better than the one I had come up with myself. That student was Amy Coney.

I hired the future judge as my research assistant. ... After she graduated from law school, I wrote a one-line letter of recommendation for her to Justice Antonin Scalia: “Amy Coney is the best student I ever had.” He was wise to hire her as a clerk. ...

I would be astonished if anyone were to oppose her nomination on the basis of character or intellect. Anxiety about her confirmation instead seems driven by the fear that her religious belief is somehow incompatible with the impartiality demanded of a judge. Some have tried to attach a sinister significance to her association with the People of Praise, an ecumenical Christian organization started by Notre Dame students in the 1970s. ...

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September 27, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Baynes: What I Learned From Law Professor Ginsburg

Houston Chronicle op-ed:  What I Learned From Law Professor Ginsburg, by Leonard Baynes (Dean, Houston):

RBGI was a student of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s at Columbia Law School. She taught me and 150 other first-year students a two-credit civil procedure course. Little known to us, it was her last semester of teaching before being elevated to the D.C. Circuit of Appeals and then later to the U.S. Supreme Court.

At Columbia, at that time, there was little diversity among the law faculty. Ginsburg was the first tenured woman, and Kellis E. Parker was the first tenured African American. For many students, both professors Ginsburg and Parker were godsends. They were approachable, dedicated to students and excellent classroom teachers. They were distinct from the other professors by not conforming to the then-popular Socratic method of instruction exemplified by the stereotypical law professor Charles Kingsfield, as presented in the book and movie “The Paper Chase.” In the classroom, Ginsburg didn’t hide the ball. She was clear and concise. She served as arole model for those who aspired to be law teachers. More importantly, I also learned a lot of substantive legal concepts about the rights to juries, appeals and final judgments. ...

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September 27, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can A Christian Be A Corporate Lawyer?

R. Garrett Rice (Ross Aronstam & Moritz, Wilmington, DE), Can a Christian Be a Corporate Lawyer? Tracing Corporate Law's Religious Roots and Identifying How We Can Integrate Our Faith and Work, 43 J. Legal Prof. 143 (2019):

The ways in which members of certain professions (ministers, for example) can serve Christ in the workplace are self-evident. For the Christian corporate lawyer, integrating faith and work may require more conscious effort, but is no less possible. This article begins to explore the ways in which a Christian can serve Christ in the corporate law arena.

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September 27, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

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

  1. SSRN Logo (2018)[493 Downloads]  Ending Corporate Tax Avoidance and Tax Competition: A Plan to Collect the Tax Deficit of Multinationals, by Kimberly Clausing (UCLA), Emmanuel Saez (UC-Berkeley) & Gabriel Zucman (UC-Berkeley),
  2. [230 Downloads]  Economic Reality in EU VAT, by Ad van Doesum (Maastricht) & Frank Nellen (Maastricht)
  3. [216 Downloads]  The Rise of Cooperative Surplus Taxation, by Allison Christians (McGill) & Tarcisio Diniz Magalhaes (McGill)
  4. [183 Downloads]  Good Tax Governance: International Corporate Tax Planning and Corporate Social Responsibility – Does One Exclude the Other?, by Ave-Geidi Jallai (Tilburg)
  5. [145 Downloads]  Who Benefits from Place-Based Policies? Job Growth from Opportunity Zones, by Alina Arefeva (Wisconsin), Morris Davis (Rutgers), Andra Ghent (North Carolina) & Minseon Park (Wisconsin)

September 27, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 26, 2020

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Law Schools In Chicago And Cleveland Consider Removing Chief Justice John Marshall From Their Names

Cleveland 19 News, Cleveland State Considering Renaming Cleveland Marshall College of Law Due To Its Racist Roots:

John Marshall Law Schools (2020)Hanna Kassis has spent months fighting for the names of two prominent law schools to be changed. ...

Who was John Marshall? Research by historians has revealed Marshall owned hundreds of slaves. Some suggest the Supreme Court justice made decisions in favor of slave owners because of his ties to the slave trade. ...

Kasssis, who lives in Cleveland, wants Cleveland Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State to be renamed as well as his alma matter, UIC John Marshall Law School in Chicago, and the other elementary and high schools named after Marshall across the country.

“It’s proof of systemic racism and the whole argument that we’re erasing history is kind of bogus because the act of renaming itself becomes history, and there’s a right side to that history and there’s a wrong side to that history," Kassis said.

Kassis started a petition in June. He also started a website; renamejohnmarshall.com and multiple social media accounts and his efforts have worked. Kassis is on a committee to rename John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

19 News reached out to Cleveland State about this. They denied our request for an on-camera interview but they did send us a statement:

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September 26, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Bar Exam Update

Tax Consequences On The Sale Of Encumbered Property: Recourse v. Nonrecourse Debt

Kenneth Weil, Recourse and Nonrecourse Debt: What Are the Federal Income Tax Consequences When the Character of Debt Changes, 74 Tax Law. ___ (2020):

ABA Tax Lawyer (2019)When encumbered property is sold, the taxation of that sale is different if the sale involves recourse debt as opposed to non-recourse debt. This difference raises an intriguing question: when debt changes from recourse debt to non-recourse debt or vice versa, which rules will control? Examples of when debt changes from recourse to non-recourse or vice versa include bankruptcy discharges, foreclosures in a state with anti-deficiency statutes, some short sales in deficiency states, and the operation of Bankruptcy Code section 1111(b).

The Cottage Savings regulations, Regulation section 1.1001-3, have specific provisions designed to answer the question what happens when debt changes from recourse to non-recourse or vice versa.

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September 26, 2020 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 25, 2020

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Elkins Reviews Duff's General Anti-Avoidance Rules Revisited

This week, David Elkins (Netanya) reviews a recently posted work by David G. Duff (British Columbia), General Anti-Avoidance Rules Revisited, 68 Can. Tax. J. 579 (2020):

Elkins (2018)

It is no secret that tax legislation is extraordinary complex. Part of the reason is the subject matter itself. Economic reality and legal doctrines do not necessarily coincide, and when they do not then taxpayers frequently can exploit the mismatch to achieve beneficial tax results. One of the swords that administrators wield to combat this phenomenon is the general anti-avoidance rule (GAAR). The question of the limits to which taxpayers may go to lower their tax liability was originally – at least in common law countries – a product of judicial doctrine. Today many countries have codified the rule or at least certain key elements of it (the closest the United States has to a statutory GAAR is IRC §7701(o), which clarifies the judicial economic substance doctrine). However, whether codified or not, GAARs by their nature are problematic. They call upon the courts to ignore the express words of the statute to prevent tax avoidance. However, one would have to be extraordinarily naïve to believe that taxpayers do not routinely structure their affairs in response to tax rules. Thus the question of when it is legitimate to invoke a GAAR is not a simple one.

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September 25, 2020 in David Elkins, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

The Vitruvian Lawyer: How To Thrive In An Era Of AI And Quantum Technologies

Hilary G. Escajeda (Denver), The Vitruvian Lawyer: How to Thrive in an Era of AI and Quantum Technologies, 29 Kan. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 421 (2020):

We live in an exciting and tumultuous time as artificial intelligence (AI), and quantum technologies unleash more transformations than the agrarian, industrial, and computer revolutions combined. This new age, popularly called “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” describes the convergence of increasingly powerful and capable digital and robotic technologies.

As human-machine teaming becomes the norm, new and mid-career lawyers should actively cultivate the uniquely human personal and professional skills that machines cannot supplant. A short list of these skills includes curiosity, cognitive range (depth and breadth), creativity, and emotional intelligence. In their work as knowledge entrepreneurs and inventive problem solvers, modern lawyers must also continuously augment and leverage their education, training, and insights to spot, imagine, generate, and deliver client value.

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September 25, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Symposium On Ruth Mason's The Transformation Of International Tax

Symposium, Ruth Mason's The Transformation Of International Tax, 114 Am. J. Int'l L. 353 (2020):

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September 25, 2020 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Suffolk Is Twelfth Law School To Offer Hybrid Online J.D.

Suffolk Law Launches Innovative Hybrid JD Program:

Hybrid JDA new approach
Suffolk University Law School has launched a pioneering new Hybrid JD Program (HJD). The program is the first to offer full- and part-time students a traditional in-person first-year classroom experience, followed by the option of taking all remaining classes online. By enrolling in the same first-year courses as all other students, HJD students will have an opportunity to develop close connections with classmates and faculty, while gaining a new level of flexibility to live and work where they want during the remainder of law school. Applications are available now to enroll beginning fall 2021.

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September 25, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Faculty Struggle With Burnout During COVID-19

Inside Higher Ed, Faculty Struggle With Burnout:

"Faculty burnout -- exacerbated by pandemic-related stressors, absent childcare and school, and unrelenting or even accelerating work expectations from colleagues -- poses real and serious risk for mental health challenges of unprecedented scope," said June Gruber, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Gruber co-wrote a column for Science last month saying that academe needs a "reality check" regarding expectations for faculty this semester. ...

Lisa Jaremka, assistant professor of social-health psychology at the University of Delaware, and co-author of a recent paper on "common academic experiences no one talks about" -- including burnout -- also said that the main consequences of burnout include mental health issues. Disillusionment with work is another danger.

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September 25, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

How Philanthropy Benefits The Super-Rich

The Guardian, How Philanthropy Benefits the Super-Rich:

Philanthropy, it is popularly supposed, transfers money from the rich to the poor. This is not the case. In the US, which statistics show to be the most philanthropic of nations, barely a fifth of the money donated by big givers goes to the poor. A lot goes to the arts, sports teams and other cultural pursuits, and half goes to education and healthcare. At first glance that seems to fit the popular profile of “giving to good causes”. But dig down a little. 

The biggest donations in education in 2019 went to the elite universities and schools that the rich themselves had attended. In the UK, in the 10-year period to 2017, more than two-thirds of all millionaire donations — £4.79bn — went to higher education, and half of these went to just two universities: Oxford and Cambridge. When the rich and the middle classes give to schools, they give more to those attended by their own children than to those of the poor. British millionaires in that same decade gave £1.04bn to the arts, and just £222m to alleviating poverty.

The common assumption that philanthropy automatically results in a redistribution of money is wrong. A lot of elite philanthropy is about elite causes. Rather than making the world a better place, it largely reinforces the world as it is. Philanthropy very often favours the rich — and no one holds philanthropists to account for it.

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September 25, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Brunson: Using A Pigouvian Tax To Reduce Gun Violence

Sam Brunson (Loyola-Chicago), Paying For Gun Violence, 104 Minn. L. Rev. 605 (2019) (reviewed by David Elkins (Netanya) here):

Gun violence is an outsized problem in the United States. Between a culture that allows for relatively unconstrained firearm ownership and a constitutional provision that ensures that ownership will continue to be relatively unchecked, it has proven virtually impossible for politicians to address the problem of gun violence. And yet, gun violence costs the United States tens of billions of dollars or more annually. These tens of billions of dollars are negative externalities—costs that gun owners do not bear themselves, and thus that are imposed on the victims of violence and on taxpayers generally.

What can we do about these costs? One way to reduce them would be to pass meaningful laws, laws that would reduce the likelihood of gun violence. In light of both the culture and the Constitution of the United States, though, such legislation seems improbable. Lawmakers face significant limitations on their ability to regulate firearms directly. If they cannot prevent gun violence, though, they can at least cause gun owners to internalize the costs. Where direct regulation is difficult, they can turn instead to a Pigouvian tax.

In this Article, I propose a Pigouvian tax on firearms.

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September 24, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (15)

D.C. Is Fifth Jurisdiction To Adopt Diploma Privilege During COVID-19

Karen Sloan (Law.com), District of Columbia Adopts Diploma Privilege in Bar Exam's 11th Hour:

DC Bar (2020)The District of Columbia Court of Appeals on Thursday adopted a diploma privilege program that will allow recent law graduates to be admitted to practice without taking the bar exam, provided they practice under the supervision of a local attorney for three years.

That makes Washington, D.C., the fifth jurisdiction to create a pathway into the profession that bypasses the bar exam amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Utah, Washington, Oregon, and Louisiana have already taken similar measures.

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September 24, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Seattle Is Eleventh Law School To Offer Hybrid Online J.D.

Seattle University School of Law, Flex JD Program: The Best of Both Worlds:

Hybrid JDSeattle U Law’s new part-time hybrid-online JD program, starting fall 2021*, will prepare you to become a practicing attorney
*Pending ABA acquiescence

Why choose Flex JD?

A flexible format that fits your busy life

Complete most coursework online through an innovative hybrid online format, providing maximum schedule flexibility for students with work and family commitments.

Connect with classmates during limited campus visits

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September 24, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Supreme Court Rejects Emergency Diploma Privilege For Law School Graduates During COVID-19

In Re Temporary Waiver of the Bar Exam Requirement For Admission to the State Bar of California and Provision of Emergency Diploma Privilege, No S264358 (Cal. Sept. 23, 2020):

California Bar ExamThe court has considered petitioners' request for an emergency order waiving the California bar examination requirement for admission to the practice of law and granting immediate diploma privilege admission to applicants who have graduated from law school with either a J.D. or an LL.M degree; who are currently registered for the October 2020 California Bar Examination; and who otherwise meet all qualifications for admission to the State Bar of California. The request is denied.

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September 24, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Zelenak: Examining The Internal Revenue Code For Disparate Racial Impacts

Lawrence Zelenak (Duke), Examining the Internal Revenue Code for Disparate Racial Impacts, 168 Tax Notes Fed. 1807 (Sept. 7, 2020):

Tax Notes FederalIn this article, Zelenak considers how a legislature committed to racial justice should respond to a convincing statistical demonstration that a particular provision of the Internal Revenue Code has disparate racial impacts. He says there are several steps between a demonstration that a provision (for example, the charitable deduction) disproportionately benefits white taxpayers in nominal terms, and the conclusion that it should be repealed or reformed to eliminate the disparate impact. He argues it is necessary (1) to establish a normative baseline from which the current provision departs, (2) to determine the race-based distribution of the ultimate benefits and burdens of the provision (as contrasted with the provision’s nominal impacts), and (3) to determine that a focus on the provision (rather than a broader or narrower focus) is at an appropriate level of analytical granularity. He concludes that the most important use of evidence of disparate racial impacts of tax provisions will almost certainly be as an argument for repealing or reforming a provision that constitutes bad tax policy even apart from its racial effects.

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September 24, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tax Prof Twitter Census (2020-21 Edition)

TwitterAccording to Bridget Crawford's latest census, there are 1,368 Law Profs on Twitter (55.4% male/44.5% female), including 85 Tax Profs (several with tax in their Twitter handles):

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September 24, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Madison: Legal Education's Waterloo — Urgency, The Fire Swamp, And The End Game

Following up on my previous post, Legal Education Faces Its Waterloo As Wile E. Coyote:

Mike Madison (Pittsburgh), Legal Education’s Waterloo: Urgency:

Just about every provost in the US, just about every law dean, just about every former law dean, just about every would-be law dean, and a growing number of “regular” law professors know that the financial jig is up. At most law schools, student tuition dollars total nowhere near the amount needed to pay the school’s operating expenses. At a few law schools, endowments and real estate portfolios help a lot. At many, parent universities cover some and even much of the budget. University piggy banks and patience may be running thin. Legal education is far from the only part of the university that struggles to pay its bills. It’s often a smallish part, and in research universities, it rarely brings in many research dollars. ...

Mike Madison (Pittsburgh), Legal Education’s Waterloo: The Fire Swamp:

TL/DR [Too Long/Didn't Read] version: Strap in. Change is going to be messy, maybe ugly, and no one has a game plan for it or for you – practitioners, judges, academics, students and new graduates, entrepreneurs. Least of all me. It’s like the fire swamp, from The Princess Bride. Survive it? You’re only skeptical because no one ever has. ...

The challenge now is that there are at least three stories competing for the future of law. Pick the right story, and you may do better. Pick the wrong story, and you may do worse. Which is which? Welcome to the awkward, messy, and ugly middle space.

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September 24, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Welcome To The ‘Turbulent Twenties’

Jack A. Goldstone (George Mason) & Peter Turchin (Connecticut), Welcome To The ‘Turbulent Twenties’:

Almost three decades ago, one of us, Jack Goldstone, published a simple model to determine a country’s vulnerability to political crisis. The model was based on how population changes shifted state, elite and popular behavior. Goldstone argued that, according to this Demographic-Structural Theory, in the 21st century, America was likely to get a populist, America-first leader who would sow a whirlwind of conflict.

Then ten years ago, the other of us, Peter Turchin, applied Goldstone’s model to U.S. history, using current data. What emerged was alarming: The U.S. was heading toward the highest level of vulnerability to political crisis seen in this country in over a hundred years. Even before Trump was elected, Turchin published his prediction that the U.S. was headed for the “Turbulent Twenties,” forecasting a period of growing instability in the United States and western Europe.

Given the Black Lives Matter protests and cascading clashes between competing armed factions in cities across the United States, from Portland, Oregon to Kenosha, Wisconsin, we are already well on our way there. But worse likely lies ahead.

Our model is based on the fact that across history, what creates the risk of political instability is the behavior of elites, who all too often react to long-term increases in population by committing three cardinal sins.

First, faced with a surge of labor that dampens growth in wages and productivity, elites seek to take a larger portion of economic gains for themselves, driving up inequality.

Second, facing greater competition for elite wealth and status, they tighten up the path to mobility to favor themselves and their progeny. For example, in an increasingly meritocratic society, elites could keep places at top universities limited and raise the entry requirements and costs in ways that favor the children of those who had already succeeded.

Third, anxious to hold on to their rising fortunes, they do all they can to resist taxation of their wealth and profits, even if that means starving the government of needed revenues, leading to decaying infrastructure, declining public services and fast-rising government debts.

Such selfish elites lead the way to revolutions. They create simmering conditions of greater inequality and declining effectiveness of, and respect for, government. But their actions alone are not sufficient. Urbanization and greater education are needed to create concentrations of aware and organized groups in the populace who can mobilize and act for change. ...

In applying our model to the U.S., we tracked a number of indicators of popular well-being, inequality and political polarization, all the way from 1800 to the present. These included the ratio of median workers’ wages to GDP per capita, life expectancy, the number of new millionaires and their influence on politics, the degree of strict party-line voting in Congress, and the incidence of deadly riots, terrorism and political assassinations. We found that all of these indicators pointed to two broad cycles in U.S. history. ...

Writing in the journal Nature in 2010, we pointed out that such trends were a reliable indicator of looming political instability and that they “look set to peak in the years around 2020.” In Ages of Discord, published early in 2016, we showed that America’s “political stress indicator” had turned up sharply in recent years and was on track to send us into the “Turbulent Twenties.”

2020s

The Political Stress Index (PSI) combines the three crisis indicators in the Goldstone-Turchin theory: declining living standards, increasing intra-elite competition/conflict and a weakening state. Growing PSI indicates increased likelihood of political violence. The Well-Being Index indicates greater equality, greater elite consensus and a more legitimate state.

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September 24, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Bearer-Friend Presents Should The IRS Know Your Race? The Challenge Of Colorblind Tax Data Virtually Today At UC-Irvine

Jeremy Bearer-Friend (George Washington) presents Should the IRS Know Your Race? The Challenge of Colorblind Tax Data, 73 Tax L. Rev. (2019), virtually at UC-Irvine today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Joshua Blank, Victor Fleischer, and Omri Marian:

Bearer Friend (2021)This Article draws from original archival sources to document a century of colorblindness in federal tax data. It traces the omission of race and ethnicity from IRS statistical publications since 1913, Joint Committee on Taxation publications since 1926, and Treasury Office of Tax Analysis publications since 1974. It shows how these omissions are exceptional relative to other areas of public policy where federal data on race and ethnicity are readily available, such as student achievement or healthcare exchange enrollments. It then evaluates the merits of colorblind tax data and argues that tax data should include race and ethnicity in order to meet goals of transparency, democracy, and equality. Colorblind tax data obscure racial inequality and prevent its remedy. Colorblind tax data also undermine the democratic accountability of tax policy. In fairness to the status quo practice of colorblindness by federal tax data institutions, this Article also considers whether the possible justifications for colorblind tax data should override principles of equality and transparency. It argues they should not.

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September 23, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (1)

Buchanan Presents Confessions Of A Recovering Economist Virtually Today At Oregon

Neil Buchanan (Florida) presents Confessions of a Recovering Economist virtually at Oregon today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Roberta Mann:

6a00d8341c4eab53ef0263e966931d200b-300wiTax law scholars, and legal scholars in general, have over the past few decades shown increasing deference to what is sometimes called "the economic approach to law." Interdisciplinary approaches to law are to be welcomed, of course, but the economic approach has crowded out other approaches, because far too many legal scholars (and economists) presume that economic analyses are correct, rigorous, and most importantly, objective. Whether or not those analyses are correct can only be determined on a case-by-case basis, while their supposed rigor confuses "doing a lot of math" with being precise in a meaningful way. Most importantly, however, these approaches are not and can never be objective. 

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September 23, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

92% Of Law Schools Weigh Shorter (105 Minutes) Online LSAT The Same As Longer (175 Minutes) On-ground LSAT In Admissions Decisions

Kaplan Survey, Law Schools Say Applicants Who Take At-Home Version of LSAT® Amid COVID-19 Not at Admissions Disadvantage:

LSAT-FlexThere’s good news for law school applicants amid the most unpredictable admissions cycle in recent history. According to a new Kaplan survey of nearly 100 law schools across the United States, taking the shorter, one-hour and 45 minutes, at-home version of the usual LSAT exam—called the LSAT-Flex—will not put aspiring attorneys at an admissions disadvantage compared to those who submit scores from the regular exam*. According to the survey, 92 percent say they will evaluate applicants equally regardless of which LSAT version they take.

Another survey result finds that 60 percent agree that an at-home version of the LSAT “would produce a fair, reliable score for test-takers that I would have confidence in as an admissions officer evaluating applicants”; 13 percent disagree, while the remaining 27 percent didn’t offer a definitive opinion. ...

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September 23, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Schizer: The Conservative Legacy Of RBG

David M. Schizer (Former Dean, Columbia), The Conservative Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

RBGWith the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we have lost one of our nation's greatest legal minds. While she obviously was much beloved on the political left, we should not forget key aspects of her legacy that also resonated powerfully on the other side of the aisle, including her commitment to meritocracy, family, incremental change and the rule of law. I speak from personal experience, as a conservative who served as her law clerk during the October 1994 term—her second year on the Supreme Court—and stayed in close touch with her ever since.

RBG's friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the court's great conservative thinkers (who passed away in 2016), was perplexing to some commentators but made perfect sense to both justices. In part, their friendship sprang from the admiration each felt for the other's considerable talents, as well as from their shared love of opera. But their friendship was grounded also in common values. ...

[I]f you had asked me who exemplified the value of meritocracy—of letting people compete and show what they can do—RBG ... would have been my pick. As a champion for women's rights, she showed that everyone deserved to be judged on their merits. The Declaration of Independence promised us all the right to "the pursuit of happiness"—to develop our talents and pursue our dreams. RBG urged the nation to honor this commitment to women, as well as to men. Success should be based on ability, not biology.

RBG knew firsthand the frustration of not being judged on merit. Even though she was at the top of her law school class, no one would hire her after graduation in 1959. She would joke that as a woman, a mother and a Jew, she was a triple threat.

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September 23, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN Logo (2018)SSRN has updated its monthly ranking of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through September 1, 2020) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

    All-Time   Recent
1 Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)  193,145 Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) 7,710
2 Dan Shaviro (NYU) 121,322 Lily Batchelder (NYU) 5,852
3 Lily Batchelder (NYU) 117,881 David Kamin (NYU) 5,449
4 David Gamage (Indiana-Bloom.) 117,213 D. Dharmapala (Chicago) 4,390
5 Daniel Hemel (Chicago) 117,026 Ruth Mason (Virginia) 4,029
6 Darien Shanske (UC-Davis) 110,510 Daniel Hemel (Chicago) 3,826
7 David Kamin (NYU) 106,112 Bridget Crawford (Pace) 3,279
8 Cliff Fleming (BYU)    105,156 Diane Ring (Boston College) 3,029
9 Manoj Viswanathan (Hastings) 102,222 Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College)  2,934
10 Rebecca Kysar (Fordham) 101,100 Hugh Ault (Boston College) 2,753
11 Ari Glogower (Ohio State) 99,925 Richard Ainsworth (BU) 2,431
12 Michael Simkovic (USC) 44,685 Dan Shaviro (NYU) 2,380
13 D. Dharmapala (Chicago) 41,770 David Gamage (Indiana-Bloom.) 2,308
14 Paul Caron (Pepperdine) 37,327 Margaret Ryznar (Indiana-Indy)    2,205
15 Louis Kaplow (Harvard) 33,605 Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)  1,877
16 Richard Ainsworth (BU) 30,545 Brad Borden (Brooklyn) 1,833
17 Ed Kleinbard (USC) 27,098 Robert Sitkoff (Harvard) 1,785
18 Vic Fleischer (UC-Irvine) 26,324 Louis Kaplow (Harvard) 1,565
19 Jim Hines (Michigan) 25,261 Manoj Viswanathan (Hastings) 1,545
20 Brad Borden (Brooklyn) 25,016 Paul Caron (Pepperdine)   1,500
21 Bridget Crawford (Pace) 24,785 Cliff Fleming (BYU) 1,438
22 Robert Sitkoff (Harvard) 24,684 Ari Glogower (Ohio State) 1,407
23 Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.) 24,496 Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.) 1,343
24 Gladriel Shobe (BYU) 24,206 Michael Simkovic (USC) 1,315
25 Richard Kaplan (Illinois) 23,805 Rebecca Kysar (Fordham) 1,223

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September 23, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Law Firms Pay Supreme Court Clerks $400,000 Bonuses; New Study Confirms Their Influence With Their Justice

New York Times, Law Firms Pay Supreme Court Clerks $400,000 Bonuses. What Are They Buying?:

Supreme Court justices make $265,600 a year. The chief justice gets $277,700.

Their law clerks do a lot better. After a year of service at the court, they are routinely offered signing bonuses of $400,000 from law firms, on top of healthy salaries of more than $200,000.

What are the firms paying for? In a profession obsessed with shiny credentials, a Supreme Court clerkship glitters. Hiring former clerks burnishes the firms’ prestige, making them more attractive to clients.

Still, the former clerks are typically young lawyers just a couple of years out of law school, and the bonuses have a second and more problematic element, said Stephen Gillers, an expert on legal ethics at New York University. “They’re buying something else: a kind of inside information about how the court is thinking and how individual justices might be thinking,” he said.

The Supreme Court appears to recognize that this is a problem. Its rules impose a two-year ban barring former clerks from working on “any case pending before this court or in any case being considered for filing in this court.” (The rules also impose a permanent ban on working on “any case that was pending in this court during the employee’s tenure.”) ...

A new study in Political Research Quarterly suggests that the ban has not been completely successful [Ryan Black (Michigan State) & Ryan Owens (Wisconsin), The Influence of Personalized Knowledge at the Supreme Court: How (Some) Former Law Clerks Have the Inside Track.].

It examined about 3,600 Supreme Court arguments over two decades, controlling for many factors, and found that former clerks making arguments before the court were no more likely to persuade most justices than other lawyers. Another study last year came to a similar conclusion [Michael Nelson (Penn State) & Lee Epstein (Washington University), Lawyers With More Experience Obtain Better Outcomes].

But the new study identified one striking exception. Former clerks were 16 percentage points more likely to attract the votes of the justice for whom they had worked. The relationship increased their chances of obtaining their former boss’s vote to about 73 percent, from about 57 percent.

Court 1

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September 23, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Pittsburgh Tax Review Publishes New Issue

Pittsburgh Tax Review (2017)The Pittsburgh Tax Review has published Vol. 17, No. 1 (2020):

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September 23, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Raskolnikov: Distributional Arguments, In Reverse

Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia), Distributional Arguments, In Reverse, 105 Minn. L. Rev. ___ (2020):

What should the government do about the distribution of resources and outcomes in the society? Two arguments have shaped academic debates about this question for several decades. The first argument states that economic regulation should focus on efficiency alone, leaving distributional considerations for the tax-and-transfer system. The second argument objects to government assistance for people unintentionally harmed by legal reforms. Taken together, the two arguments impose major restrictions on the range of possible distributional policies.

This Article contends that a growing body of research in the economics of trade, immigration, industrial organization, labor, and environmental regulation reveals that the core assumptions underlying the two distributional arguments do not hold. Moreover, once these assumptions are changed to reflect reality, the analytical machinery underlying the arguments goes in reverse: The conclusions become not merely indeterminate but opposite of those originally advanced.

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September 23, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Kleven Presents The EITC And The Extensive Margin Virtually Today At NYU

Henrik Kleven (Princeton) presents The EITC and the Extensive Margin: A Reappraisal virtually at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Lily Batchelder and Daniel Shaviro:

Kleven_henrik2This paper reconsiders the impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) on labor supply at the extensive margin. I investigate every EITC reform at the state and federal level since the inception of the policy in 1975. Based on event studies comparing single women with and without children, or comparing single mothers with different numbers of children, I show that the only EITC reform associated with clear employment increases is the expansion enacted in 1993. The employment increases in the mid-late nineties are very large, but they are influenced by the confounding effects of welfare reform and a booming macroeconomy. Based on different approaches that exploit variation in these confounders across household type, space and time, I show that the employment effects align closely with exposure to welfare reform and the business cycle. Single mothers who were unaffected by welfare reform (but eligible for the EITC) did not respond. Overall and contrary to consensus, the case for sizable extensive margin effects of the EITC is fragile. I highlight the presence of informational frictions, widely documented in the literature, as a natural explanation for the absence of extensive margin responses.

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September 22, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Polsky Presents Taxing Buybacks Virtually Today At UC-Hastings

Gregg Polsky (Georgia) presents Taxing Buybacks (with Daniel Hemel (Chicago)) virtually at UC-Hastings today as part of its Tax Speakers Series hosted by Heather Field and Manoj Viswanathan:

PolskyHead_0-2-262x300A 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 anti-buyback movement includes presidential candidates 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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September 22, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

USC Professors Are 'Scared To Death To Teach' After Colleague 'Thrown Under The Bus' By Dean For Using Mandarin Word 'Nèige' In Class

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Chronicle of Higher Education, ‘Scared to Death to Teach’: Internal Report Cites ‘Chilling Effect’:

USC Marshall (2020)An anonymous survey of 105 professors at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business suggests that many of them have lost confidence in the dean, and that they feel “livid,” “betrayed,” and “scared of students” after a fellow faculty member was “thrown under the bus,” as several of them described it, following a controversy over his use of a Chinese word [see 29-page report here].

The faculty member, Greg Patton, a professor of clinical business communication, used the word nèige (那个), which literally means “that” in Mandarin, but is also commonly used as a filler word like “um” or “er.” It was part of an example during a Zoom class last month on how such words can prove distracting during presentations. The word is pronounced “nay-ga,” and some Black students in the class complained in an email to administrators that it sounded like the n-word.

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September 22, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Yet Another Generous Dean: Laura Rosenbury

Karen Sloan (Law.com), Yet Another Generous Dean:

Rosenbury (2020)I’m checking in on this welcome trend of law deans cutting big checks to their schools. The latest entrant is the University of Florida’s Laura Rosenbury. ...

I’ve been keep track of law deans making major donations to their schools during these crazy pandemic times, and I’m happy to add another one to the list. University of Florida law dean Laura Rosenbury has donated a total of $100,000 to various student support and scholarship programs. She joins Penn State Dickinson law dean Danielle Conway, Pepperdine law dean Paul Caron, and Florida International University law dean Antony Page in making six-figure gifts to their law schools in recent weeks.

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September 22, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pittsburgh Tax Review Publishes New Issue

Pittsburgh Tax Review (2017)The Pittsburgh Tax Review has published Vol. 17, No. 1 (2019):

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September 22, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Bar Applicants Confront Pandemic, Fires, And Dubious Online Test

San Francisco Chronicle, California State Bar Exam, Delayed Amid Pandemic, Becomes Contentious:

California Bar ExamSamuel Humy graduated from Cornell Law School this year and moved to California.

With a job lined up with the Santa Clara County Public Defender Office, he planned to take the California State Bar exam over the summer and start work in early August as a full-fledged lawyer.

Then the coronavirus happened. And the fires.

The State Bar pushed the test normally scheduled in July back to September, then to October as it figured out the software and security issues around a new online format for the hours-long exam, which normally involves test takers crammed into conference rooms.

Humy and his partner, who is also taking the bar, found a place in Santa Cruz to study, but the CZU Lightning Complex fires forced them to evacuate.

“The bar is a stressful test,” without having to worry about a pandemic, fires and an untested online format, Humy said.

Plenty of other would-be lawyers around California are also unsettled. ...

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September 22, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

U.S. Department Of Education Launches Civil Rights Investigation Following President's Admission Of Racism At Princeton

Chronicle of Higher Education, Princeton Acknowledged ‘Embedded’ Racism. The Education Dept. Says That’s Grounds for an Investigation:

PrincetonThe U.S. Education Department is investigating Princeton University for a possible violation of federal civil-rights law after the university’s president made public comments acknowledging systemic and embedded racism at the institution.

Department officials expressed concern in a letter to the university, dated September 16, that Princeton, “based on its admitted racism,” was not compliant with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits institutions that practice racial discrimination from receiving federal funds. Noting that Princeton had received “well over $75 million” in federal support since 2013, the letter stated that the university’s prior nondiscrimination and equal-opportunity assurances “may have been false.”

In this case, the “admitted racism” was an open letter that Princeton’s president, Christopher L. Eisgruber, sent to the Princeton community earlier this month. In the message, Eisgruber outlined steps his administration planned to take “to address systemic racism at Princeton and beyond.”

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September 22, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

NY Times: How Climate Migration Will Reshape America

New York Times Magazine, How Climate Migration Will Reshape America:

In recent years, summer has brought a season of fear to California, with ever-worsening wildfires closing in. But this year felt different. The hopelessness of the pattern was now clear, and the pandemic had already uprooted so many Americans. Relocation no longer seemed like such a distant prospect. Like the subjects of my reporting, climate change had found me, its indiscriminate forces erasing all semblance of normalcy. Suddenly I had to ask myself the very question I’d been asking others: Was it time to move?

I am far from the only American facing such questions. This summer has seen more fires, more heat, more storms — all of it making life increasingly untenable in larger areas of the nation. Already, droughts regularly threaten food crops across the West, while destructive floods inundate towns and fields from the Dakotas to Maryland, collapsing dams in Michigan and raising the shorelines of the Great Lakes. Rising seas and increasingly violent hurricanes are making thousands of miles of American shoreline nearly uninhabitable. As California burned, Hurricane Laura pounded the Louisiana coast with 150-mile-an-hour winds, killing at least 25 people; it was the 12th named storm to form by that point in 2020, another record. Phoenix, meanwhile, endured 53 days of 110-degree heat — 20 more days than the previous record.

For years, Americans have avoided confronting these changes in their own backyards. The decisions we make about where to live are distorted not just by politics that play down climate risks, but also by expensive subsidies and incentives aimed at defying nature. In much of the developing world, vulnerable people will attempt to flee the emerging perils of global warming, seeking cooler temperatures, more fresh water and safety. But here in the United States, people have largely gravitated toward environmental danger, building along coastlines from New Jersey to Florida and settling across the cloudless deserts of the Southwest.

I wanted to know if this was beginning to change. Might Americans finally be waking up to how climate is about to transform their lives? And if so — if a great domestic relocation might be in the offing — was it possible to project where we might go? To answer these questions, I interviewed more than four dozen experts: economists and demographers, climate scientists and insurance executives, architects and urban planners, and I mapped out the danger zones that will close in on Americans over the next 30 years. The maps for the first time combined exclusive climate data from the Rhodium Group, an independent data-analytics firm; wildfire projections modeled by United States Forest Service researchers and others; and data about America’s shifting climate niches, an evolution of work first published by The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last spring. (See a detailed analysis of the maps.)

Map

What I found was a nation on the cusp of a great transformation

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September 22, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 21, 2020

Gravelle Presents Sharing the Wealth: How To Tax The Rich Virtually Today At Loyola-L.A.

Jane G. Gravelle (Congressional Research Service) presents Sharing the Wealth: How to Tax the Rich virtually today at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Katie Pratt and Ted Seto:

GravelleThis paper considers methods for taxing income of the affluent. Much of this income is unrealized capital gains that escapes tax. Conventional individual income taxes changes cannot capture this income and corporate taxes cannot target the wealthy. Other options are estate and gift taxes, taxation of gains on an accrual basis, and a wealth tax. Accrual taxation of capital gains most closely captures untaxed income, can be targeted to the wealthy, and appears to be feasible. If wealth and accrual taxation are deemed too difficult, a combination of conventional changes and taxing gains at death are options. ...

Summing Up
At the heart of the problem of taxing the rich is that the individual income tax does not reach much of the income of the extremely affluent. Each of the options for doing so has advantages and limitations. Individual income tax changes tax only income already subject to tax. There are significant problems surrounding a wealth tax and many barriers to be overcome; a wealth tax also increases taxes on assets already subject to tax in many cases.

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September 21, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (2)

Congressional Research Service Seeks To Hire Head Of American Law Division

Assistant Director and Senior Specialist (American Law Division):

CRS LogoSummary:  The Congressional Research Service (CRS) seeks a senior manager to lead its American Law Division (ALD), one of CRS’ five research divisions. CRS provides objective, nonpartisan, and authoritative legislative research, analysis, and consultative support exclusively to the U.S. Congress.

Salary:  $131,239 to $197,300 per year

Responsibilities:  This position serves as head of the American Law Division, a major CRS research division. In this capacity, and reporting directly to the Director of CRS, the Assistant Director leads, plans, directs, and evaluates the work of a team of attorneys in its production of written products and consulting services in support of the U.S. Congress.

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September 21, 2020 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bar Exam Update

2019-20 Survey of Applied Legal Education

The Center for the Study of Applied Legal Education (CSALE) has released Robert R. Kuehn (Washington University), Margaret Reuter (UMKC) & David A. Santacroce (Michigan), 2019-20 Survey of Applied Legal Education:

CSALEThe report summarizes the collective survey responses from 95% of law schools and over 1,300 law clinic and field placement instructors. The 2019-20 survey, CSALE’s fifth tri-annual survey, provides the most comprehensive, accurate picture to date of clinical legal education programs, courses, and faculty.

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September 21, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Cost Of The University Of Florida's Ascent Up The U.S. News Rankings, From #52 (#17 Among Public Universities) To #30 (#6)

Following up on my previous post, 2021 U.S. News College Rankings:  Chronicle of Higher Education, The Rules of the Game:

Florida US NewsHow the U.S. News rankings helped reshape one state’s public colleges.

For Bernie Machen, it started before he’d been hired. The University of Florida’s Board of Trustees was looking for a president who would commit to moving the institution up the U.S. News and World Report’s college rankings.

“The thing that would bring us all together was to be able to bring the university, that we all went to and loved, to the top 10,” said Manny Fernandez, a tech-company executive who chaired the 2003 presidential search. At the time, the University of Florida ranked No. 52 over all and No. 17 among public universities. The board wanted to see the Gators among the top 10 public institutions.

Fernandez was tired of the reactions he would get when he divulged his alma mater at parties. Either people wouldn’t have really heard of the University of Florida — “or somebody would say, ‘Wasn’t that voted No. 1 party school by Playboy?’” Fernandez was offended. “I believe I am who I am today because I went to this school,” he said. “We needed to change the external perception of the University of Florida.” U.S. News was one very effective way to do that.

Machen, too, believed in the goal. While many people inside and outside of higher education today argue that a high ranking doesn’t necessarily translate to quality, Machen believed in many of U.S. News’s metrics. “I feel that many of them are relevant and worth shooting for,” he said, “and I think improving on those variables made us a better institution.”

He became the president of the University of Florida in January 2004. He would not see the Gators reach his goal; he retired in 2014, when UF was No. 14 among public universities. But he set the ball for the next administration’s spike. The Gators would break into the top 10 in 2017. On Monday, in U.S. News’ latest rankings, they ranked sixth — on the verge of reaching their latest goal: top five.

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September 21, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)