Paul L. Caron

Sunday, October 31, 2010

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

What Halloween Can Teach Your Kids About Taxes


NCAA Soccer Fatherly brag: my sophomore son yesterday scored his first collegiate goal with 90 seconds left to win his team's final regular season game, 1-0 (and finish the season with a 7-2 league record). Now it's on to the post-season conference tournament, where the team last year earned the school's first-ever NCAA tournament bid.

October 31, 2010 in Legal Education, Miscellaneous, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

Recasting State Tax Incentives for Hollywood

Joshua R. Schonauer (J.D. 2010, Ohio State) has publidhed Note, Star Billing? Recasting State Tax Incentives for the "Hollywood" Machine, 71 Ohio St. L.J. 381 (2010). Here is the Conclusion:

State tax incentives for the film industry have had a positive effect by reining in the loss of jobs and revenue to other countries by way of runaway productions. However, the measures often seem reactionary rather than balanced, leading too frequently to a windfall for the filmmakers. In order to sustain a thriving entertainment economy, state legislatures should consider a number of factors when crafting the appropriate tax credit system for their states. In the face of harsh economic times, states must first protect taxpayers' dollars before investing in a risky entertainment infrastructure.

The film industry has always been culturally important, helping to raise the spirits of Americans during the Great Depression and other times of economic hardship. The fact remains that Hollywood is not going anywhere; in times of financial crisis, the movies remind you that you can bet your bottom dollar that the sun will be out tomorrow. But when the bottom dollar balloons to $27 million in Benjamin Button's pocket, even that eternally optimistic, red-haired orphan might contemplate cutting back the film studios' allowance.

October 31, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

CRS: Cost of Extending Bush Tax Cuts = $5 Trillion

CRS Logo BNA has made available a Congressional Research Service report, The Bush Tax Cuts and the Economy (R41393), by Thomas L. Hungerford. The report states that the total cost of extending all of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts would be $5.048 trillion over the next decade, when taking into account the cost of indexing the alternative minimum tax and the cost of debt service [click on chart to enlarge]CRS 

In September, the CRS had estimated the cost of extending the Bush tax cuts as $2.8 trillion over ten years.

October 30, 2010 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Democratic National Committee Is D.C. Tax Deadbeat

DNC Logo Pajamas Media, DNC and Dems’ Private Club Delinquent on Taxes 16 Times in 7 Years:

The Democratic National Committee and the party’s private club in the nation’s capitol have been delinquent with tax payments on sixteen separate occasions over the last seven years, Pajamas Media has learned.

According to District of Columbia government records, since 2004 the Democrats’ main political committee and its National Democratic Club — an exclusive restaurant and hideaway on Capitol Hill where prominent Democrats and their guests dine — have been hit with fines and interest penalties in excess of $115,000 for failure to pay their property taxes on time.

Officials at the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue reviewed tax records with Pajamas Media. Government records here and here paint a picture of two highly visible political establishments that have been tax deadbeats for most of the last seven years. This year, the club fell so far into tax arrears that it was listed as part of a D.C. government “tax sale” in August. The DNC and the club finally paid the property taxes in September to dodge a government seizure and a public auction sale. ...

Grover Norquist, president of the conservative Americans for Tax Reform, told Pajamas Media:

Barack Obama’s Democratic Party is the party of Leona Helmsley. Taxes are for little people. The Secretary of the Treasury, the highest ranking government official in charge of taxes, didn’t pay his own taxes and President Obama didn’t believe that was a problem.

They don’t see themselves bound by the law any more than Louis the Fourteenth did. They are above the law, they are above taxes. Taxes and laws are for little people.

October 30, 2010 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)

9th Cir. Rejects Government's Subpoena of Skadden Opinion Documents in Quellos Tax Shelter case

The Ninth Circuit yesterday dismissed an appeal of a district court order compelling Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to turn over documents related to tax shelter opinion letters it authored for the Quellos Group. The Ninth Circuit held that the guilty pleas rendered the issue moot, rejecting the Government's attempt to use the documents in sentencing the defendants.  United States v. Krane, No. 10-30247 (9th Cir. Oct. 29, 2010).

October 30, 2010 in New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Taxation of Contingency Fees

Katherine D. Black (Southern Utah University), Stephen T. Black (Franklin Pierce) & Michael D. Black (Parr Waddoups Brown Gee & Loveless, Salt Lake City) have posted Taxation of Contingency Fees: Deductions for Expenses, 126 Tax Notes 745 (Feb. 8, 2010), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

The Supreme Court’s decision in Commissioner v. Banks may have unintentionally changed the nature of lawsuit income. However, the Court did not claim to overturn the “origin of the claim” doctrine with respect to the deduction of attorney’s fees and costs. Thus, the Court has created a two-part analysis for taxation: one for the income from lawsuits and another for the deductions.

October 30, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Elizabeth Garrett Named Provost at USC

Eyal-Cohen Presents Small Business and the Government Today at Cincinnati

Mirit Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Pittsburgh) presents The Small Business and the Government: A Theory of Path Dependence and Cognitive Processes at Cincinnati today as part of our Scholar Exchange Program (Earlier this year, Stephanie McMahon (Cincinnati) presented Tax Filing in the U.K.: A Guide for the U.S. When Eliminating the Marriage Penalty at Pittsburgh.) Here is the abstract of Mirit's paper:

U.S. laws and regulations are filled with special sections that exempt small businesses from certain rules, taxes or fees, or at least relax the impact of such rules. Yet, the questions of how small businesses became so prominent in policy discussions or why Congress enacts legislation that favors small business—have never been completely answered. The paper provides a framework of causality for the special treatment of small businesses and models the historical forces surrounding it. Utilizing the economic theory of path dependence, the paper argues that current 'welfare' patterns can be best understood when past incentive behaviors are included in the analysis. In other words, past approval of small business preferences influences the perpetuation of those benefits and Congress's approval of future small business preferential treatment. The paper identifies cognitive processes and institutional path dependence as instrumental in developing the path of small business preferences. Cognitive propensities to favor small businesses developed from our nation's philosophy of separation of powers. Throughout history, Congress has expanded this favoritism of small firms, viewing them as guardians of fair competition and free society. Over the years, government expanded its paternalism by providing small firms with special preferences through the legal system at widely growing rates. These cognitive and behavioral progressions facilitated Congress's creation of agencies and organizations that were influential in nurturing and sustaining government's 'small business welfare' path.

October 29, 2010 in Colloquia, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

WSJ: GOP Should Just Say No to the FAIR Tax

Fair Tax Wall Street Journal editorial, The FAIR Tax Trap: Democrats Turn a Conservative Fad Against GOP Candidates:

Public anxiety over rising taxes is helping Republicans in this midterm election—with one exception. Democrats are trying to turn the tables on the GOP over the so-called FAIR Tax, a tax reform idea that has bounced around conservative circles for years.

The proposal would end all current federal taxes, junk the Internal Revenue Service and impose in their place a 23% national sales tax. In 16 House and three Senate races so far, Democrats have blasted GOP candidates for at one point or another voicing an interest in the FAIR tax. ... FAIR tax proponents are right to say these Democratic attacks are unfair and don't mention the tax-cutting side of the proposal, but the attacks do seem to work. ...

This is a political reality that FAIR taxers need to face. ... No one supports tax reform more than we do, and in theory a consumption tax like the FAIR tax is preferable to an income tax because it doesn't punish the savings and investment that drive economic growth. If we were designing a tax code from scratch, the FAIR tax would be one consumption tax option worth debating.

But we live in a country that already has an income tax, and most states rely on sales taxes for a major part of their revenue. Unless the Sixteenth Amendment that allowed an income tax is repealed, voters rightly suspect that any new sales tax scheme will merely be piled on the current code. Adding a 23% federal sales tax on top of a 5% or more state sales tax levy would also be a huge additional tax on all purchases. The temptation to avoid such a tax by paying cash or via other means would be high, and collection might require the same army of auditors that the IRS now deploys. ...

Our advice to the FAIR taxers is that voters will start to take the idea seriously once the income tax is on the road to repeal. Until then, our advice to candidates would be to avoid the FAIR tax and focus on goals that are more achievable and less politically self-destructive.

October 29, 2010 in News, Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

The Five Stages of Grading

Grading The Five Stages of Grading:

Everyone is familiar with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and her stage model of coping with grief popularly known as the five stages of grief. What you may not know is that Kübler-Ross actually developed her theory as a graduate student, basing her conception of the process of loss on the experiences one goes through over a grading weekend.

In coping with grading, it’s important for graduate students and young professors to know that they are not alone and that this process takes time.  Not everyone goes through every stage or processes the reality of grading in this order, but everyone experiences some version of at least two of these steps.

(Hat Tip: Jim Maule.)

October 29, 2010 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

WSJ: California's Two Tax Initiatives Would Cripple the State

Wall Street Journal editorial, The Tax Me More State:  Two Initiatives That Would Further Punish California:

The Tax Foundation announced this week that California has the second worst business tax climate of the 50 states, with only New York more hostile to employers. Congratulations, but it gets worse. If a pair of ballot measures pass next week, the Golden State could soon take the tax lead and make even Albany look like Hong Kong.

Proposition 24 would raise $1.3 billion of new taxes on businesses, while Proposition 25 would allow the state legislature to pass budgets and tax increases with a simple majority vote, instead of the current mandated two-thirds supermajority.

The most pernicious is Proposition 25, which is being sold as a good government measure to end the state's annual fiscal follies and pass a budget on time. But what matters more than how a budget passes is what's in it. And the two-thirds rule that has prevailed since the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 has been the lone restraint on the government unions and their political valets who have spent California to the brink of insolvency. ...

Both propositions are leading in the polls, which suggests that a majority of state residents are already smoking the marijuana whose legalization is also on the Tuesday ballot. If they pass, voters might as well legalize drugs because they're going to need something to ease their pain.

October 29, 2010 in News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Florida Hosts 6th Annual International Tax Symposium

The Florida Graduate Tax Program hosts its Sixth Annual International Taxation Symposium today with these speakers:
  • Edward D. Kleinbard (USC)
  • Charles E. McLure, Jr. (Hoover Institution, Stanford)
  • Bertil Wiman (Uppsala University (Sweden)

A live webcast is available here beginning at 8:30 a.m.

October 29, 2010 in Tax, Tax Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. News Annual Peer Assessment of Law School Tax Programs

US News Tax I received in the mail yesterday my ballot for the 2012 U.S. News Tax Rankings (for prior U.S. News tax rankings, see 2011 and 2008-2011).  As in prior years, the survey is intended "to identify the law schools having the top programs in tax law."  The survey is sent "to a sample of law school faculty listed in the AALS Directory of Law Teachers 2009-2010 as currently teaching a course or seminar in tax law."  Recipients are asked "to [i]dentify up to fifteen (15) schools that have the highest-quality tax law courses or programs.  In making your choices consider all elements that contribute to a program's excellence, for example, the depth and breadth of the program, faculty research and publication record, etc."

As Donald Tobin (Ohio State) has noted, it is more than strange that NYU has finished ahead of Florida and Georgetown each year that U.S. News has conducted the survey.  Because the survey ranks the schools by how often they appear on the respondents' "Top 15" lists, this means that some folks list NYU, but not Florida and Georgetown, among the Top 15 tax programs.  

In filling out your survey, you may want to consult our article, Pursuing a Tax LLM Degree: Where?, which compiles information about 13 highly ranked tax LLM programs: (1) NYU; (2) Florida; (3) Georgetown; (4) Northwestern; (5) Miami; (6) Boston University; (7) San Diego; (8) Loyola-L.A./LMU; (9) SMU; (10) Denver; (11) University of Washington; (12) Villanova; and (13) Chapman. The topics on which information is reported in the Article include: (1) tuition; (2) scholarships; (3) the full-time tax professors who teach in each program and the tax courses they teach; (4) the number of full-time and part-time students enrolled in each program; (5) general information about adjunct professors teaching in each program; (6) required courses; (7) elective courses, specialty certificates, and concentrations; (8) opportunities to develop tax practice skills by taking experiential learning courses and simulated practice courses; (9) extracurricular tax activities; (10) opportunities to graduate with honors or receive academic prizes; and (11) career planning and placement services offered to students in each program. The article also ranks the tax faculty at these thirteen law schools by citations (the Top 5 are NYU (1), Florida (2), Georgetown (3), Miami (4), and Northwestern (5)) and SSRN downloads (the Top 5 are Loyola-L.A. (1), NYU (2), Chapman (3), Florida (4), and San Diego (5)).

Other resources available on TaxProf Blog include:

October 29, 2010 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Democrats’ Estate Tax Plan Trips Next Secretariat

Bloomberg, Democrats’ Estate Tax Plan Trips Next Secretariat, by Amity Shlaes:

The estate tax is one topic getting lost in the dust of the midterm races. That’s a pity. This tax, now quiescent, is set to roar back like a stallion in 2011 if lawmakers don’t rein it in with new legislation.

The destruction caused by the estate tax can be hard to capture. This is partly because the family business dynamic, so affected by the tax, is also hard to describe. Nonetheless, if left unchecked, this levy can trip up not only the workings of a family enterprise but also the general economy. An entertaining reminder of this fact is a film in theaters this midterm autumn.

Secretariat is about the Chenery family and their horse, who in 1973 became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. The film is also about Secretariat, the business, and the struggles all businesses suffered in the high-tax 1970s. ...

[T]he racehorse almost didn’t become the legend. That’s because the family’s assets -- hard-won knowledge, intergenerational experience, a foal with potential -- were almost dispersed to the wind. After Secretariat had become Horse of the Year, but before he ran his Triple Crown races, Chris died. The patriarch’s death triggered the estate tax. The amount due on Meadow Stables seemed to necessitate liquidation. Avoiding that fate would require losing the focus and resources the farm needed to ready its possible champion.

This trap caused Penny, the new leader of the enterprise, to feel a sense of desperation familiar to other overtaxed businesses of the period. In those years income tax rates were high. So was the capital gains tax. The estate tax was especially burdensome.

“The 1970s was the bad old estate tax days,” Paul Caron, a tax expert at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, said in an e-mail. “The exemption was only $60,000 ($334,000 in today’s dollars) with a 77 percent top rate. Just as the day’s 70 percent top income tax rate spurred all sorts of aggressive tax sheltering activity, the draconian estate tax rates encouraged the wealthy to spend considerable time and money engaging in various strategies to reduce the estate tax bite.”

The fact that one of those tax-escape strategies might have been the purchase of gentlemen farms like the Chenerys’ doesn’t undermine the larger point: navigating tax obstacles stole precious time from more worthy endeavors. ...

The coming decade, which will see a higher estate tax, income tax and capital gains tax, is shaping up to be a formidable challenge -- one that seems as daunting as surviving all three legs of the Triple Crown.

Democrats who see virtue in the estate tax are doing the equivalent of aborting future enterprises. They deprive businesses of oxygen with their support for capital gains taxes and disregard for contracts.

The Republicans are supposed to prevent a rerun of the 1970s. Several commentators have noticed that there’s something Republican about “Secretariat.” ...  Still, it isn’t clear that the Grand Old Party has the stamina to pass the endurance test that is tax reform. By focusing so much on midterm fury and so little on reform, the party may prove more Sham than Secretariat.

October 29, 2010 in News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

How to Eliminate Footnote Glut (and Reader Vertigo) in Legal Writing

Joan Magat (Duke) has published Bottomheavy:  Legal Footnotes, 60 J. Legal Edu. 65 (2010). Here is part of the Introduction:

This article reviews, as many others have, why and to what extent we footnote in legal academic writing. Unlike most others, it suggests amelioration—that footnotes should follow a rational rule around which the following objectives should orbit: First, satisfy the reader’s most basic need in letting her eye drop below the line in the first place—attribution. Elucidation is the other important reason. Yet if the text above the line doesn’t satisfy that latter need at the outset, then it ought to. It might just be that we should not expect journal articles, like dissertations, to display every dimension of the writer’s research, knowledge, and cogitation. It might just be that we should be reading these articles chiefly for what they have to say. Which comes around to the most important reason for a rule of reason: to make the articles themselves readable.

Here is the Conclusion:

Footnote glut can be alleviated by giving the reader less and trusting the author more. The author implicitly stands behind her cited authority, anyway, just as she stands explicitly behind her argument. Student editors provide authors the service of checking the author’s cites for accuracy and appropriateness, but it is the author, not the editor, who is ultimately responsible for both, just as the author is responsible for winnowing all sources consulted to citing the best source. The editor can help by urging less, not more. The reader more interested in substance than in sources will be grateful. The only losers will be those who relish a romp through discursive notes tickling both intellect and wit. But who’s to say the witty, intellectually curious author must exercise such gifts only below the line? Any writer with rapier wit should be wielding it in the text. It’s the absence of wit that, among other bad habits, has stultified law-review prose style ...

At bottom, the message to law-review editors and authors alike is this: Above the line, loosen up; below the line, lighten up. Relieve reader vertigo.

The article has 174 footnotes and a seven-page list of sources.

October 29, 2010 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Avi-Yonah & Panayi: Rethinking Treaty-Shopping -- Lessons for the European Union

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan) & Christiana Hji Panayi (Queen Mary University of London have posted Rethinking Treaty-Shopping: Lessons for the European Union on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In this paper, we reassess the traditional quasi-definitions of treaty-shopping in an attempt to delineate the contours of such practices. We examine the various theoretical arguments advanced to justify the campaign against treaty-shopping and we assess the extent to which these concerns are addressed by the OECD and the US Model. We also consider the current trends in treaty-shopping and the anti-treaty-shopping policies under the OECD Model and the US Model. We focus on recent cases on beneficial ownership. Finally, we examine the possible implications of European Union law on the treaty-shopping debate.


October 29, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Burman Presents Consequences of a U.S. Government Debt Bubble Today at Columbia

Burman Leonard E. Burman (Syracuse University, Maxwell School) presents Catastrophic Budget Failure: The Economic Consequences of a U.S. Government Debt Bubble (with Jeffrey Rohaly, Joseph Rosenberg & Katherine C. Lim (all of the Tax Policy Center)) at Columbia today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series. Here is the abstract:

Continuation of current U.S. fiscal policy will lead to an enormous accumulation of debt with potentially disastrous economic consequences. Exacerbated by the recent economic turmoil and fueled by the willingness of creditors to lend at very low interest rates, there is significant risk that necessary fiscal reform will be put off. In this paper, we consider the causes, mechanisms, and macroeconomic fallout of a catastrophic budget failure — a situation in which markets’ perception of the credit worthiness of the U.S. government rapidly deteriorates, leaving it unable to access credit markets at any reasonable rate of interest and generating a high probability of the previously unthinkable: the U.S. government defaulting on its debt obligations.

October 28, 2010 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

TIGTA: IRS Paid $111m in Erroneous Recovery Act Tax Refunds to 126k Taxpayers

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released Verifying Eligibility for Certain New Tax Benefits Was a Challenge for the 2010 Filing Season (2010-41-128):

While the IRS received about 132 million individual income tax returns and issued approximately 101 million refunds totaling $291.7 billion through May 28, 2010, those returns contained nearly 23.7 million errors, an increase of 7.1% over the same period last year. TIGTA identified inadequate controls and incomplete and inaccurate programming resulting in 125,762 individuals receiving nearly $111.4 million in erroneous Recovery Act-related tax benefits, including:

  • 10,581 individuals claiming $65.6 million in erroneous First-Time Homebuyer Credits (IRS prevented 2,363 of them from receiving some $11.3 million in credits);
  • 109,665 individuals erroneously received $29.7 million in Making Work Pay and Government Retiree Credits;
  • 5,345 individuals erroneously claimed $15.6 million in plug-in electric vehicle credits; and
  • 171 individuals claimed $453,220 in erroneous non-business energy property credits.

TIGTA also identified 2,933 individuals with more than $95.8 million in Qualified Motor Vehicle Tax deductions on individual income tax returns (Form 1040, Schedule A) that exceeded the dollar amount the IRS uses to identify a potentially erroneous claim. The IRS has not developed a process to identify these potentially erroneous claims on Schedule A.

“During the 2010 Filing Season, the IRS timely processed individual income tax returns and issued refunds on schedule,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “However, while the IRS did a good job overall, improvements are needed to prevent erroneous claims for credits and deductions.”

October 28, 2010 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Slate: Law Schools Are Manufacturing More Lawyers Than America Needs

Slate: A Case of Supply v. Demand:  Law Schools Are Manufacturing More Lawyers Than America Needs, and Law Students Aren't Happy About It, by Annie Lowrey:

During the recession, the logic was ubiquitous: The economy is terrible—better to wait it out! It is a three-year fast track to a remunerative, respectable career! It's not just learning a subject—it's learning how to think! Law school, always the safe choice, became a more popular choice. Between 2007 and 2009, the number of LSAT takers climbed 20.5%. Law school applications increased in turn.

But now a number of recent or current law students are saying—or screaming—that they made a mistake. They went to law school, they say, and now they're underemployed or jobless, in debt, and three years older. And statistics show that the evidence is more than anecdotal. ...

[D]ozens of law students who have gone public, very public, to chastise the schools they elected to attend for leaving them older and poorer. One popular medium is the "scam blog," where indebted, unemployed attorneys accuse law schools of being little better than tuition-sucking diploma mills. (Sample blog title: Shilling Me Softly.) The author of one popular, if histrionic, such blog describes his law school as a Ponzi scheme. ...

The demand for lawyers has fallen off a cliff, both due to the short-term crisis of the recession and long-term changes to the industry, and is only starting to rebound. The lawyers that do have jobs are making less than they used to. At the same time, universities seeking revenue have tacked on law schools, minting more lawyers every year.

(Hat Tip: Darrell Miller.)

October 28, 2010 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Why Do We Tax Recoveries by Prisoners Freed From Wrongful Imprisonment?

IP Forbes, Tax On Wrongful Imprisonment Needs Reform, by Robert W. Wood (Wood & Porter, San Francisco):

It is hard to imagine a more terrifying nightmare than being wrongfully convicted and imprisoned.  It is comforting that there’s been a dramatic increase in wrongfully convicted persons gaining their freedom, often after a decade or more of wrongful imprisonment.  ... 

Exonerees may later seek redress from the cities, states and officials whose actions precipitated their wrongful conviction.  They may receive payment under federal or state civil rights and compensation statutes or under the common law of false imprisonment. ...

The changes in an exoneree’s life from this physical and mental ordeal are incalculable.  But if an exoneree eventually recovers damages, are they taxable?  The Internal Revenue Code exempts payments received on account of personal physical injuries and physical sickness.  That means settlements for auto accidents are tax-free.  Yet appallingly, some exonerees have been forced to pay taxes on their awards, ostensibly because there is nothing “physical” about being locked up. 

Plainly, even if never beaten, assaulted or mistreated in prison, the victim suffers a deprivation of liberty that is manifestly physical.  In the 1950s, the IRS issued a series of rulings according tax-free status for payments to survivors of Nazi persecution, U.S. prisoners of war, and Japanese-American internees.  Then, in 2007 the IRS abruptly cancelled these rulings. 

More recently, the U.S. Tax Court, affirmed by Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled that “[p]hysical restraint and physical detention are not ‘physical injuries’.  .  .  .  Nor is the deprivation of personal freedom a physical injury.”  These platitudes leave exonerees with few options.  [Stadnyk v. Commissioner, No. 09-1485 (6th Cir. Mar. 1, 2010)] Congress has tried to ameliorate this disparity, most recently in the Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act of 2010, H.R. 4743.  Yet like previous legislative efforts to provide relief to exonerees, it failed to become law.  ...

It’s time for the IRS or Congress to fix this.  Justice demands it.

For an example of the wonderful work done by Innocence Projects around the country, see this article on the Ohio Innocence Project directed by my good friend and colleague Mark Godsey.

October 28, 2010 in News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

An Empirical Investigation of Law School Grads that Fail the Bar

Jane Yakowitz (UCLA) has published The Marooned Law School Graduates: An Empirical Investigation of Law School Graduates that Fail the Bar Exam, 60 J. Legal Educ. 3 (2010).  Here is the abstract:

What happens to law school graduates that fail the bar exam? This invisible population makes up a significant portion of the graduating law school classes, but we don't know anything about their long-term prospects. We don't even know how many of them there are. In contrast to the rich body of literature examining the long-term outcomes of lawyers, this is the first serious attempt to understand the costs imposed by bar failure. I use a number of data resources, all of which have limitations, but which in combination tell a consistent story. I rely most heavily on the 1993 National Survey of College Graduates which allows for the identification of subjects likely to have failed the bar exam. I also use the 1994 LSAC Bar Passage Study and a bank of nearly 200 interview transcripts with law school graduates that failed a bar exam. Law school graduates that never succeed in passing a bar exam have a very difficult 'first term.' Five to ten years out of law school, they lag well behind lawyers on every measure - earnings, employment stability, even marriage and divorce rates. Moreover, as a group, bar-failers fare worse than college graduates despite having left college with better-than-average grades. But after an initial adjustment period, they spring back and out-perform the average college graduate for the second half of their careers. Though they never catch up to the prosperous outcomes of their lawyer peers, the earnings of the median bar-failer does catch up to the 25th percentile lawyer, which might have been about the center of their distribution if the group had passed the bar exam.


October 28, 2010 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I ♥ Taxes

I Heart Taxes The Harvard Crimson, Website Asks Americans To Love Taxes:

While many political pundits continue to emphasize the public’s frustration with taxation, Vanessa S. Williamson—a graduate student in government and social policy—started a website last August to take the conversation in a new direction. The website, dubbed I Heart Taxes, was created as a way for individuals to showcase their pride in the “patriotic pro-tax movement,” according to Williamson. ...

I Heart Taxes is a combination of a blog providing tax-related commentary with an online store selling merchandise that highlights how tax dollars are used to support government programs. ...

Williamson said the response to her website has been “universally positive.” Government and Sociology Professor Theda R. Skocpol—who is Williamson’s academic advisor—praised the creativity of “I Heart Taxes,” which she said “takes on the tax issue in a humorous way.”

Skocpol and Williamson are currently collaborating on a book that will examine the Tea Party movement, with a focus on the movement’s views on taxation. Skocpol and Williamson’s research has shown that Tea Party members are not as opposed to government benefit programs as is commonly thought, but instead are angry about people they view as less-deserving receiving those benefits.

(Hat Tip: Mary O'Keeffe.)

October 28, 2010 in News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

Lefcoe: The Uses and Abuses of Tax Increment Financing

George Lefcoe (USC) has posted Competing for the Next Hundred Million Americans: The Uses and Abuses of Tax Increment Financing on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Demographers predict that the US population will grow by one hundred million in 2050. Newcomers will settle in suburbia, particularly to the fast growing big cities of the south and west, cities in the resurgent heartland of the country, exurbia and ‘superstar cities’.

Communities eager to appeal to these newcomers will use tax increment financing for public improvements such as stadiums, museums, plazas and promenades. These public improvements are often integrated into signature private redevelopment projects carefully designed to achieve environmental and planning objectives by being pedestrian-friendly, high density, and mixed use, accessible not only by automobile but public transit as well.

After illustrating the beneficial use of tax increment financing, I describe six major criticisms often leveled against tax increment financing (TIF). (1) TIF helps outer suburbs lure jobs from center cities and inner suburbs; (2) TIF should be confined to seriously blighted areas and is not; (3) TIF is often used to subsidize the increased supply of retail development in markets where demand is static, achieving little except the displacement of sales from other locations; (4) cities sponsoring tax increment projects unfairly and inefficiently drain property tax revenues from other taxing entities including schools and counties; (5) There are few serious obstacles preventing local governments from sponsoring TIF projects in places that would have attracted private development anyway, or bestowing subsidies greater than necessary upon firms agreeing to locate in marginal areas; and (6) Many local governments don’t bother to analyze whether TIF projects are net tax revenue producers or assess periodically whether actual yields match initial projections.

October 28, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NY Times: Medical Expense Deductions for Acne Cream, Not Breast Pumps

New York Times, Acne Cream? Tax-Sheltered. Breast Pump? No, by David Kocieniewski:

Denture wearers will get a tax break on the cost of adhesives to keep their false teeth in place. So will acne sufferers who buy pimple creams. People whose children have severe allergies might even be allowed the break for replacing grass with artificial turf since it could be considered a medical expense.

But nursing mothers will not be allowed to use their tax-sheltered health care accounts to pay for breast pumps and other supplies. That is because the IRS has ruled that breast-feeding does not have enough health benefits to quality as a form of medical care.

With all the changes the health care overhaul will bring in the coming years, it nonetheless will leave those regulations intact when new rules for flexible spending accounts go into effect in January. Those allow millions of Americans to set aside part of their pretax earnings to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses.

While breast-feeding supplies weren’t allowed under the old regulations either, one major goal of the health care overhaul was to control medical costs by encouraging preventive procedures like immunizations and screenings.

Despite a growing body of research indicating that the antibodies passed from mother to child in breast milk could reduce disease among infants — including one recent study that found it could prevent the premature death of 900 babies a year — the IRS has denied a request from the American Academy of Pediatrics to reclassify breast-feeding costs as a medical care expense.

(Hat Tip: Ann Murphy.) Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

October 28, 2010 in News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Fogg: Transparency in Private Collection of Federal Taxes

T. Keith Fogg (Villanova) has posted Transparency in Private Collection of Federal Taxes on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Most federal taxes are collected from taxpayers by business entities, held in a public trust for the United States and then paid over to the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”). While the vast majority of business entities pay over the taxes held in trust in a timely and appropriate manner, a sizeable amount, in dollar terms, does not get paid. The amount of unpaid “collected” taxes in 2008 created a $58 billion tax gap item.

Disclosure law governing federal taxes defaults to non-disclosure for most tax returns. This general rule of non-disclosure governs the returns reporting the taxes collected by business entities even though the information on these returns is information concerning a public trust. This Article analyzes the federal tax disclosure laws and concludes that the amount of taxes collected on behalf of the United States and the amount of these collected taxes paid over to the IRS should be disclosed. Rather than coming under the general rule of non-disclosure which applies to income tax returns and other returns reporting the liability of an individual or entity for the payment of taxes, these returns should be treated like the returns of pension plans which are open for the public to see.

In addition to approaching the issue from the perspective of disclosure policy, the Article also looks at the collection policy issues presented by the disclosure of this information. For the same policy reasons that Congress has decided compliance is enhanced by the disclosure of pension plans and the returns of exempt organizations, the Article concludes that compliance would be enhanced by this proposal and the tax gap reduced.

October 28, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SNL on Brett Favre

For those tired of the Brett Favre sordid saga:

October 27, 2010 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Mundstock Presents Sourcing the Sourceless Today at San Diego

Mundstock George Mundstock (Miami; visiting at San Diego) presents Sourcing the Sourceless at San Diego today as part of its Tax Speakers Series. Here is the Conclusion:

This discussion hopefully demonstrated how difficult it is to locate business profits for purposes of international business income taxation. Under current law, these allocations are made de novo. Apportionment advocates want standardized rules for such sourcing. For standardized rules to be politically acceptable, it is likely that they have to adjust for local economic conditions. This is no surprise, since one explanation for the existence of multinational business enterprises in the first palace is that they alone are positioned to benefit from differences in (arbitrage across) cross-country local conditions. Some suggestions as to how to deal with local conditions have been made herein, but, unfortunately, much more work is needed.

October 27, 2010 in Colloquia, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mason Presents What is Tax Discrimination? Today at Georgetown

Mason Ruth Mason (Connecticut) presents What is Tax Discrimination? The European Interpretation (with Michael S. Knoll (Pennsylvania)) at Georgetown today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series. Here is the abstract:

Prohibitions of tax discrimination have long appeared in constitutions, tax treaties, trade treaties and other sources, but despite their ubiquity little agreement exists as to how such prohibitions should be enforced or defined. This has led prior commentators to conclude that tax discrimination is an incoherent concept. In this Article, we draw on traditional and modern economic theory to develop coherent guidelines for interpreting tax nondiscrimination to require, in the alternative, locational neutrality, leisure neutrality, or competitive neutrality. Furthermore, we argue that within the European Union, nondiscrimination provisions should be interpreted to require competitive neutrality, which would prevent states from putting residents at a tax-induced competitive advantage or disadvantage relative to nonresidents. We show that, contrary to the prevailing view, maintaining a level playing field between resident and nonresident taxpayers does not necessarily require equal taxation of residents and nonresidents. Accordingly, courts and tax authorities cannot simply compare residents’ and nonresidents’ effective tax rates to root out tax discrimination. Instead, more subtle analysis is required. That analysis, however, yields simple rules of thumb that provide states and courts with clear direction in writing tax laws and evaluating challenges to those laws.

October 27, 2010 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hasen: An Economic and Tax Analysis of Financial Options

David Hasen (Santa Clara) has published Financial Options in the Real World: An Economic and Tax Analysis, 37 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 789 (2010). Here is the abstract:

Many of the consequences of issuing and purchasing options on publicly traded property have been well understood since Black and Scholes developed a model for option pricing. No model of options, however, provides an accurate economic analysis of the actual transactions that issuers and purchasers engage in when options are bought and sold. One consequence of this gap in understanding is that the rules for taxing options remain poorly developed.

This Article provides a transactional analysis of option sales for the first time. The focus is on covered options, but the analysis also has implications for options in which the underlying property serves merely as a reference obligation and is owned by neither party to the transaction. The analysis demonstrates that while all options have as one component a swap of variable risks or returns on the underlying property for a fixed payment, "in the money" options involve, in addition, a forward transfer of the benefits and correlative burdens of a part of the underlying property that is equivalent to a forward sale of that part. Commentators have not identified this embedded forward sale because the payment arrangement between the parties to the option transaction obscures it; however, a comparison of option prices derived under the Black-Scholes model with the theoretical prices of such forwards demonstrates that the transactions are identical. The analysis also illuminates the relationships between options and other common financial transactions, such as collars, and it permits a clear assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of possible tax rules for financial options.

October 27, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Minnesota Law Battles 50% State Subsidy Cut With 13% Tuition Increase, 1% Faculty Pay Cut

Minnesota MNDaily, After Cuts, Law School Eyes Future:  A 50% Cut in Two Years Translates to Increased Tuition:

Like every other college at the University of Minnesota, the Law School is facing a litany of budget woes, including a daunting cut in state funding from 22% to 11% in two years.

The results of this cut include a 13.5% increase in tuition this academic year and a 1.15% percent pay cut for faculty in the 2011 fiscal year.

Dean David Wippman revealed all this in the State of the Law School address to about 60 students Monday at Mondale Hall. Wippman explained how the Law School plans to maintain quality through difficult times by focusing on alumni outreach, namely for fundraising purposes and mentoring current students.

Dan Filler (Drexel), University Of Minnesota Law Prepares For State Budget Cuts:

We're obviously moving toward a segmented market in public legal education.  There will be top-tier schools that want to compete with their private brethren.  This means staying nose to nose with private schools on both faculty compensation and course load.  It also means investing in institutes, centers, and programs that facilitate research.  As a practical political matter, it's going to be near impossible for any state school to achieve this without amping tuition beyond $30K.  We've already seen the Berkeley/Virginia/Michigan move and the real question is which other schools intend to follow that model.  (I would have guessed Minnesota, among others.)  Then there will be the remainder of state schools that temper their commitment to super high-end hiring and retention with the practical reality that state governments neither desire, nor can afford, a Lexus law school. 

The interesting question is where these decisions will be made.  Will faculties decide they want to support and grow elite programs, moving strategically to reduce or eliminate state subsidies? Or will university administrations, or state governments, insist that tuitions remain low - insuring that their state law schools are affordable and signaling that access is an extremely important value.  (The UC system may be pursuing a third model -- one a tad more redistributive -- featuring high sticker prices and unusually expansive need-based financial aid.)

In a world of unlimited resources, one law school can be everything to everyone.  As things now stand, however, law schools are forced to make critical choices.

October 27, 2010 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Crawford: Steinbrenner to Estate Tax -- Who's Boss?

Tax AnalystsBridget Crawford (Pace) has published Steinbrenner to Estate Tax: Who's Boss?, 129 Tax Notes 477 (Oct. 25, 2010):

In this article, Prof. Crawford describes some of the tax problems that may be facing the estate of George Steinbrenner, the late owner of the New York Yankees.

All Tax Analysts content is available through the LexisNexis® services.

October 27, 2010 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Kindregan: Tax Consequences of Collaborative Reproduction

Charles P. Kindregan, Jr. (Suffolk) has published Taxing Parenthood: Federal Tax Law and Collaborative Reproduction, 24 Am. J. Fam. L. 134 (2010). Here is the abstract:

This article examines the novel issues dealing with the application of the federal tax code to collaborative reproduction, i.e. assisted reproductive technology involving third parties in the procreative process. Although collaborative reproduction has become a billion dollar business in the United States, the tax issues arising from it has for the most part been obscured from public view. Payment to a collaborator for gametes, embryos and birthing a child for another obviously raise tax issues, but often attempts are made to avoid reporting such payments, especially to surrogate carriers and egg donors. While deductions may be allowed for the costs of collaborative reproduction, the only analogous rulings may be those having to do with blood and human milk. There is a little literature on the subject, but except for a decision of the tax court on deduction of legal and medical payments and the cost of employing a surrogate carrier, there appears to be no practical controlling law. Given the economic reality of transfer of money in the field of reproductive medicine this article may help to focus attention on the subject.

October 27, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

NYU Hosts Forum on The Bush Tax Cuts

NYU Logo NYU hosts a lunchtime forum today on Congress Revisits the Bush Tax Cuts: Who Should Pay Taxes, And How Much?:

The United States tax system is on a collision course with reality. Experts on the left and right agree that the U.S. is on an unsustainable fiscal path, and it is difficult to deny sharply increasing income inequality. Yet the only debate between Democrats and Republicans regarding the expiring Bush era tax cuts is whether to repeal those cuts for the very highest income tax bracket. Will this work as a long-term answer? What about the mushrooming budget deficit? Or income inequality? We have a remarkable panel of experts to address these issues.

  • Barry Friedman (NYU) (moderator)
  • Diane Lim Rogers (Concord Coalition)
  • Daniel Shaviro (NYU)
  • Alan Viard (American Enterprise Institute)

October 27, 2010 in Tax, Tax Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

'I Don't Know Any Tax Lawyer Who Does Their Own Tax Returns'

Time, Why $1,700 Means Joel Stein Is Rich, by Joel Stein:

I've always believed the rich were different from you and me, but it turns out they're different only from you. When I listened to the nuanced economic debate over whether the Bush tax cuts should be kept for rich households making more than $250,000, my overwhelming response was, I'm rich! My total income for 2009 was $288,115, placing me among the richest 2% of Americans. ...

I called Mike Foster, a tax lawyer at Venable LLP. After hearing the specifics of my tax returns, Foster informed me that I am not rich. The debate is over people who report more than $250,000 after deductions, and I had only $182,532 in taxable income, thanks to my giant mortgage and high income and property taxes. ... Even more confusing, my income was high enough that I had to pay the alternative minimum tax, which makes the Bush tax cut irrelevant. Or something like that. Foster wasn't sure.

"I don't even do my tax returns anymore," he said. "I don't know any tax lawyer who does their own tax returns. The forms are Greek even to us."

October 27, 2010 in News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Newman: Panning for Gold

Joel S. Newman (Wake Forest) has posted Panning for Gold on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Most tourists who engage in gold panning find gold which is worth less than their price of admission to the gold mine. From a tax standpoint, they have nondeductible, personal losses. Those precious few who find gold which is worth more than their price of admission should not have taxable income unless or until they sell the gold to a third party. Due to the valuation and allocation difficulties inherent in measuring basis and amount realized, there should be no realization event when the gold is panned. Alternatively, the gold panning activity can be viewed as producing tax free, imputed income, at least until the later sale event.

October 26, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

2011 Business Tax Climate: Chilliest in Blue States

The Tax Foundation today released the 2011 State Business Tax Climate Index (8th ed.) which ranks the fifty states according to five indices: corporate tax, individual income tax, sales tax, unemployment insurance tax, and property tax. Here are the ten states with the best and worst business tax climates:


South Dakota


North Carolina




Rhode Island


















New Hampshire






New Jersey








New York

Interestingly, all ten of the states with the worst business tax climates voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, and five of the ten states with the best business tax climates voted for John McCain (and eight of the ten voted for George Bush in 2004).


October 26, 2010 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (25) | TrackBack (1)

CTJ Releases Tax Reports

Obama's Deficit Commission Eyes $1 Trillion in Annual Tax Expenditures

GAO Releases Two Tax Reports

Abrams: Economic Substance and the Partnership Anti-Abuse Rule

Howard Abrams (Emory) has posted Did Codification of Economic Substance Repeal the Partnership Anti-Abuse Rule?, 51 Tax Mgmt. Mem. 299 (2010), on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Since codification of the economic substance doctrine in March of 2010, representatives of the Treasury department have assured taxpayers that no change in substantive law was intended, and the statutory language is relatively narrow. But courts have used the phrase “economic substance” for a variety of anti-abuse doctrines, and several commentators have suggested that the new statutory language can encompass them all. The precise reach of the codified economic substance doctrine is important because of the new penalty regime that is triggered by a failure to satisfy the codified economic substance doctrine, and I argue that the breadth of the new penalties strongly supports a narrow reading of the codification language.

October 26, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings


SSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 663 American and international law school faculties and 1,500 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN data base.  Here is the new list (through October 16, 2010) 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 Downloads


Recent Downloads


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)


Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


Paul Caron (Cincinnati)



Vic Fleischer (Colorado)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)



Paul Caron (Cincinnati)


Katherine Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)



James Hines (Michigan)


Carter Bishop (Suffolk)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Jennifer Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


Francine Lipman (Chapman)



David Walker (BU)


Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)



Ed McCaffery (USC)


Richard Kaplan (Illinois)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


James Hines (Michigan)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Bradley Borden (Brooklyn)



Francine Lipman (Chapman)


Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Daniel Shaviro (NYU)



Steven Bank (UCLA)


Bridget Crawford (Pace)



Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)


Martin J. McMahon, Jr. (Florida)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Allison Christians (Wisconsin)



Bradley Borden (Brooklyn)


Vic Fleischer (Colorado)



Daniel Shaviro (NYU)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)


David Walker (BU)



David Schizer (Columbia)


Ruth Mason (Connecticut)



Michael Knoll (Penn)


David Weisbach (Chicago)



Katherine Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


Steven Bank (UCLA)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Joshua Blank (NYU)



Ruth Mason (Connecticut)


Daniel Simmons (UC-Davis)


Continue reading

October 26, 2010 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Johnston: Scary New Wage Data

Tax AnalystsDavid Cay Johnston has published Scary New Wage Data, 129 Tax Notes 481 (Oct. 25, 2010):

Now for some really scary breaking news from the latest payroll tax data. ... Total wages, median wages, and average wages all declined, but at the very top, salaries grew more than fivefold. ...

The new data hold important lessons for economic growth and tax policy and take on added meaning when examined in light of tax return data back to 1950. The story the numbers tell is one of a strengthening economic base with income growing fastest at the bottom until, in 1981, we made an abrupt change in tax and economic policy. Since then the base has fared poorly while huge economic gains piled up at the very top, along with much lower tax burdens.


All Tax Analysts content is available through the LexisNexis® services.


October 26, 2010 in News, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

GOP to Target IRS Funding to Starve Health Care Law

Wall Street Journal, IRS Funding A Target In Health-Care Implementation Battle, by Martin Vaughan:

Funding for the IRS could become a battleground in the next Congress as Republicans seek to halt implementation of the new health-care law.

GOP candidates are running on a pledge to repeal that law. But some repeal advocates say a strategy of choking off funding to the IRS and federal health agencies is more politically viable.

October 26, 2010 in IRS News, News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

21st Annual Philadelphia Tax Conference

Philadelphia The two-day 21st Annual Philadelphia Tax Conference kicks off today. For a list of speakers and their topics, see here.

October 26, 2010 in Tax, Tax Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lambda Tax Guide for California Same-Sex Couples

Lamda Lambda Legal has released Tax Guide Following Important IRS Acknowledgment of California's Same-Sex Couples. From the press release:

Lambda Legal has released a short guide aimed at tax professionals and California's registered domestic partners explaining the consequences of a significant shift in federal tax policy as they file their tax returns for 2010.

The change, announced earlier this year by the Internal Revenue Service, applies to California's registered domestic partners (RDPs) and also may apply to the state's estimated 18,000 legally married same-sex couples, as well as registered domestic partners in Nevada and Washington. In a change from the approach taken by the Bush Administration, the IRS will now recognize the jointly owned community property income earned by California RDPs, the same way it long has done for different-sex married couples who file separate federal income tax returns. Recognition of "community income" means couples each will report half of their combined income on their separate returns -- called "income-splitting" -- which can mean big savings for couples with wide disparities in income.

October 26, 2010 in News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Barthold Presents Inside the Tax Legislative Sausage Machine Today at SMU

Barthold Thomas A. Barthold (Chief of Staff, Joint Committee on Taxation) presents A View from Inside the Legislative Sausage Machine at SMU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

The presentation is a view of the legislative process with a focus on the Joint Committee's role in the process. The presentation begins with a description of how a bill becomes law and includes a discussion of the role of compromise, the growth and use of tax expenditures, and the continued use of sunset dates and expiring provisions.

October 25, 2010 in Colloquia, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Shaviro Presents Taxation and the Financial Sector Today at St. John's

Shaviro Daniel N. Shaviro (NYU) presents Taxation and the Financial Sector, 63 Nat'l Tax J. ___ (Dec. 2010) (with Douglas A. Shackelford (University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flager Business School) & Joel B. Slemrod (University of Michigan, Ross School of Business)) at St. John's today as part of its Faculty Colloquium Series. Here is the abstract:

In the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, a variety of taxes on financial institutions have been proposed or enacted. These taxes’ justifications range from punishing those deemed to have caused or unduly profited from the crisis, to addressing the budgetary costs of the crisis, to better aligning banks’ and bank executives’ incentives in light of the broader social costs and benefits of their actions. Although there is a long-standing literature on corrective, or Pigouvian, taxation, most of it has been applied to environmental externalities, and the externalities that arise from the actions of financial institution are structurally different. This paper reviews the justifications for special taxes on financial institutions, and addresses what kinds of taxes are most likely to achieve the various stated objectives, which often are in conflict. It then critically assesses the principal such taxes that have been proposed or enacted to date: financial transactions taxes, bonus taxes, and taxes on firms in the financial sector that apply based on size, bank liabilities, or excess profits.

October 25, 2010 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)