TaxProf Blog

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1209:  123 Tax Profs Oppose Impeachment/Censure Of John Koskinen

IRS Logo 2Letter From 123 Tax Professors in Opposition to Impeachment or Censure of IRS Commissioner (Aug. 28, 2016):

We the undersigned 123 tax law professors teach in law schools across America. We teach tax law and respect for the process of law in Utah, Montana, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio as well as in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. and places in between.
We urge you to oppose any resolution to impeach or censure John Koskinen, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

We teach our students how to represent clients in positions adverse to the Internal Revenue Service, but we also teach our students respect for the law and for the IRS. The IRS carries out a vitally important mission for our country. Respect for the IRS fosters the voluntary compliance that is essential for our revenue system to work.

Impeachment or censure will harm the country by weakening our revenue system. Impeachment or censure would disrupt the functioning of the IRS—which has had four Commissioners in as many years—leading to increased tax evasion, reduced revenue collection, and a higher national debt. Impeachment or censure would also set a dangerous precedent and deter talented people from working to improve the country’s struggling revenue system.

We also fear that targeting Commissioner Koskinen will distract the Congress from the vital work of enacting meaningful tax reform. Academics, practitioners, and businesses agree that we must revise our revenue system to rationalize and simplify the rules, and to minimize the collateral costs of raising the necessary revenue.

We believe that nothing that has been reported provides any basis for impeachment or censure. Commissioner Koskinen was called out of retirement when the IRS needed help, and responded for the simple reason that it was the time for all good citizens to come to the aid of their country.

We respectfully request that the House reject misguided efforts to impeach or censure Commissioner Koskinen, and focus instead on enacting meaningful reforms to our revenue system.

Sincerely,

     

[school for identification only]

1

Utah

Professor Clifton Fleming

J. Rueben Clark Law School, BYU

 

2

Utah

Professor Nancy A. McLaughlin

Univ. of Utah SJ Quinney College of Law

 

3

Utah

Assistant Professor Gladriel Shobe

J. Reuben Clark Law School, BYU

 

4

Idaho

Professor Victoria Haneman

Concordia Univ. School of Law

 

5

West Virginia

Professor Elaine Wilson

Univ. of West Virginia Law School

 

6

Kentucky

Professor Jennifer Bird-Pollan

Univ. of Kentucky

 

7

Kansas

Professor Lori McMillan

Washburn Law School

 

8

Alabama

Professor Tracey M. Roberts

Cumberland School of Law

 

9

South Carolina

Assistant Professor Tessa Davis

Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

 

10

Mississippi

Professor Karen Green

Univ. of Mississippi School of Law

 

11

Mississippi

Associate Professor Donna R. Davis

Univ. of Mississippi School of Law

 

12

Montana

Associate Professor Pippa Browde

Univ. of Montana School of Law

 

13

Montana

Professor Elaine Gagliardi

Univ. of Montana School of Law

 

14

Oklahoma

Professor Jonathan Forman

Univ. of Oklahoma Law School

 

15

Nebraska

Professor Emeritus Bill Lyons

Univ. of Nebraska Law School

 

16

Georgia

Professor Camilla E Watson

Univ. of Georgia Law School

 

17

Georgia

Associate Professor Lisa Milot

Univ. of Georgia Law School

 

18

Arizona

Professor Adam Chodrow

Arizona State Univ. College of  Law

 

19

Arizona

Associate Professor Erin  Scharf

Arizona State Univ. College of  Law

 

20

Maine

Jeffrey A. Maine

Univ. of Maine School of Law

 

21

Louisiana

Professor Marjorie Kornhauser

Tulane Law School

 

22

Louisiana

Professor Philip Hackney

LSU Law Center

 

23

Missouri

Professor Henry Ordower

St. Louis Univ. School of Law

 

24

Missouri

Professor Kerry Ryan

St. Louis Univ. School of Law

 

25

Tennessee

Professor Michelle M. Kwon

Univ. of Tennessee

 

26

Tennessee

Professor Don Leatherman

Univ. of Tennessee

 

27

Indiana

Professor Randle B. Pollard

Univ. of Indiana Law School

 

28

Indiana

Professor Del Wright

Valparaiso Univ. Law

 

29

Indiana

Professor Joni Larson

Indiana Tech Law School

 

30

Indiana

Professor Leandra Lederman

Univ. of Indiana

 

31

Indiana

Professor David Herzig

Valparaiso Law School

 

32

Indiana

Professor Lloyd Mayer

Notre Dame Law School

 

33

Nevada

Professor Francine Lipman

Univ. of Nevada Law School

 

34

Texas

Professor Bryan Camp

Texas Tech Law School

 

35

Texas

Professor Robert Peroni

Univ. of Texas Law School

 

36

Texas

Professor Calvin Johnson

Univ. of Texas Law School

 

37

Texas

Professor Mark Cochran

St. Mary's Law School

 

38

Texas

Professor Bruce McGovern

Houston Law School

 

39

Texas

Assistant Professor Susan Morse

Univ. of Texas Law School

 

40

Texas

Professor Paul Asofsky

Univ. of Houston Law School

 

41

Texas

Professor Terri Hedge

Texas A&M Law School

 

42

North Carolina

Professor Richard Schmalbeck

Duke Law School

 

43

North Carolina

Professor Lawrence Zelenak

Duke Law School

 

44

Maryland

Professor Fred Brown

Univ. of Baltimore Law School

 

45

Michigan

Professor  Reuven Avi-Yonah

Univ. of Michigan School of Law

 

46

Michigan

Professor Linda M. Beale

Wayne State School of Law

 

47

Colorado

Professor David Hasen

Univ. of Colorado Law School

 

48

Pennsylvania

Professor Alice G. Abreu

Temple Law School

 

49

Pennsylvania

Professor David Shakow

Pennsylvania Law School

 

50

Pennsylvania

Professor Reed Shuldiner

Pennsylvania Law School

 

51

Pennsylvania

Professor Keith Fogg

Villanova Law School

 

52

Pennsylvania

Professor Norman Stein

Drexel Law School

 

53

Pennsylvania

Professor Leslie Book

Villanova Law School

 

54

Pennsylvania

Professor Jim Maule

Villanova Law School

 

55

Pennsylvania

Professor Andrea Monroe

Temple  Law School

 

56

Ohio

Professor Stephanie Hunter McMahon

Univer of Cincinnati College of Law

 

57

Ohio

Professor Carolyn L. Dessin,

Univ. of Akron Law School

 

58

Ohio

Professor Stephanie Hoffer

Ohio State Law School

 

59

Ohio

Professor Deborah A. Geier

Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

 

60

Florida

Professor Emeritus Joseph Dodge

Florida State College of Law

 

61

Florida

Professor Charlene Luke

Univ. of Florida Levin College of Law

 

62

Florida

Professor Elena Maria Marty-Nelson

NSU Nova Law School

 

63

Florida

Professor Martin J McMahon

Univ. of Florida Levin College of Law

 

64

Iowa

Professor Carolyn C. Jones

Univ. of Iowa College of Law

 

65

Iowa

Professor Emeritus Marin Begleiter

Drake Univ. Law School

 

66

Iowa

Professor Carolyn Jones

Univ. of Iowa Law School

 

67

Iowa

Professor George Yin

Univ. of Virginia Law School

 

67

Virgina

Professor Mary Heen

Univ. of Richmond School of Law

 

68

Virgina

Professor Andrew Hayashi

 Univ. of Virginia Law School

 

69

Virginia

Professor Thomas R. White III

Univ. of Virginia Law School

 

70

Delaware

Professor Christine D. Allie

Delaware Law School

 

71

Wisconsin

Professor Susannah Tahk

Univ. of Wisconsin

 

72

Connecticut

Emerita Professor Toni Robinson

Quinnipac Univ. Law School

 

73

Oregon

Professor Roberta F. Mann

Univ. of Oregon School of Law

 

74

Oregon

Professor Jack Bogdanski

Lewis & Clark Law School

 

75

California

Professor Patricia Cain

Santa Clara Univ. Law School

 

76

California

Professor Joseph Bankman

Stanford School of Law

 

77

California

Professor Richard Winchester

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

 

78

California

Professor Michael B. Lang

Chapman Univ. School of Law

 

79

California

Professor Theodore P. Seto

Loyola Law School- Los Angeles

 

80

California

Professor Ellen Aprill

Loyola Law School- Los Angeles

 

81

California

Professor Edward Kleinbard

Univ. of Southern California

 

82

California

Professor Katherine Pratt

Loyola Law School- Los Angeles

 

83

California

Professor Frank J. Doti

Chapman Univ. School of Law

 

84

California

Professor Bruce Wolk

Univ. of California, Davis

 

85

California

Professor Jordan Barry

San Diego Law School

 

86

California

Professor Heather M. Field

Univ. of California Hastings

 

87

New York

Professor Alan Appel

New York Law School

 

88

New York

Professor Ann Thomas

New York Law School

 

89

New York

Professor Brad Borden

Brooklyn Law School

 

90

New York

Visiting Professor Michael Hirshfeld

Cornell Law School

 

91

New York

Professor Deborah Schenk

NYU Law School

 

92

New York

Professor Daniel Shaviro

NYU Law School

 

93

New York

Professor Victor Zonana

NYU Law School

 

94

New York

Professor David Pratt

Albany Law School

 

95

New York

Professor Rebecca Kysar

Brooklyn Law School

 

96

New York

Professor Linda Galler

 Hofstra Univ. Law School

 

97

Maryland

Professor Fred Brown

Univ. of Baltimore School of Law

 

98

Massachusetts

Professor Meredith Conway

Suffolk Law School

 

99

Massachusetts

Professor Ray Madoff

Boston College Law School

 

100

Massachusetts

Assistant Professor Julian Fray

Northeastern Univ. School of Law

 

101

Massachusetts

Professor Emeritus Hugh Ault

Boston College Law School

 

102

Massachusetts

Professor Alan Feld

Boston Univ. Law School

 

103

Massachusetts

Senior Lecturer Stephen E. Shay

Harvard Law School

 

104

Massachusetts

Professor Theodore Sims

Boston Univ. Law School

 

105

New Jersey

Professor Tracy Kaye

Seton Hall Univ. School of Law

 

106

New Jersey

Professor Cynthia Blum

Rutgers Law School

 

107

Illinois

Assistant Professor Hayes Holderness

Univ. of Illinois Law School

 

108

Illinois

Professor Emeritus John Columbo

Univ. of Illinois Law School

 

109

Illinois

Professor Julie Roin

Univ. of Chicago Law School

 

110

Illinois

Professor Emily Cauble

DePaul Law School

 

111

Illinois

Professor Evelyn Brody

Chicago-Kent College of Law

 

112

Illinois

Professor David Weisbach

Univ. of Chicago Law School

 

113

Illinois

Assistant Professor Daniel Hemel

Univ. of Chicago Law School

 

114

Vermont

Professor Stephanie Willbanks

Vermont Law School

 

115

Washington

Professor Ann Murphy

Gonzaga Law School

 

116

DC

Professor Ben Leff

American Univ. College of Law

 

117

DC

Emeritus Professor Ronald A. Pearlman

Georgetown Univ. Law Center

 

118

DC

Profesor Karen Brown

George Washington Law School

 

119

DC

Professsor Nancy Abramowitz  

American Univ. College of Law

 

120

DC

Professor Neal Buchanan

George Washington Law School

 

121

DC

Professor Roger Colinvaux

Catholic Univ. Law School

 

122

DC

Professor Brian Galle

Georgetown Univ. Law Center

 

123

DC

Professor Stephen Cohen

Georgetown Law School

 

 

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/08/the-irs-scandal-day-1209123-tax-profs-oppose-impeachmentcensure-of-john-koskinen.html

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Comments

They're just a bunch of Democrats.

I disagree. Impeach that obstructionist.

Posted by: Anon | Aug 30, 2016 4:22:55 AM

"Respect for the IRS fosters the voluntary compliance that is essential for our revenue system to work."

This is idealism. Realistically, personal incentives drive tax compliance since 70-80% of tax filers receive refunds from the IRS every single year. That's not respect, it's self-interest.

And no mention in this distinguished letter of false statements to investigators, or destruction of subpoenaed evidence after it was subpoenaed. A more robust defense would've at least addressed the primary reasons impeachment is being sought.

Oh, well. The irony is almost tailor made: Had Koskinen worked in a bank or insurance company in the private sector, and made false statements to federal regulators and presided over the destruction of requested documents, he'd have been fined, fired, and possibly charged with a crime by now...

Posted by: MM | Aug 30, 2016 7:04:21 AM

"Impeachment or censure would disrupt the functioning of the IRS - which has had four Commissioners in as many years - leading to increased tax evasion, reduced revenue collection, and a higher national debt."

These assertions would be true if there was some evidence that evasion has gone up and revenue has gone down. But the federal tax gap, calculated by the IRS itself, has not changed in about 15 years.

Also, the federal debt will rise every year regardless of who's running the IRS as long as the federal government continues to borrow. The IRS has no say in federal spending "priorities".

Did professors actually write this letter, or did they enlist a bunch of undergraduates? Whoever's responsible should've taken a Critical Thinking 101 class...

Posted by: MM | Aug 30, 2016 7:14:37 AM

What would be more informative than university affiliation is political party affiliation.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Aug 30, 2016 7:24:38 AM

What part of the letter mentions respect for the First Amendment of the United States Constitution? What part of the letter mentions the Supremacy Clause?

Posted by: Nom de Blog | Aug 30, 2016 8:11:47 AM

What is the Congress supposed to do when the administration continues to ignore the law? Impeachment is an option, removing revenue is an option. WTF do you want them to do?

Posted by: Roux | Aug 30, 2016 8:14:06 AM

This IRS is now perceived to been corrupted for political warfare. The Democrats have ruined the trust that is necessary for something vital to the Nation's interest, all other banana republics do the same thing for the same reason and then plead expediency for the 'good' of the People. The IRS was caught out in criminality, the peoples trust so necessary for taxation is gone, a great majority of the people at the IRS seem to be Democrats and partisan, can't have that type of rigged representation from an organization which is not neutral.

Posted by: Ron Nord | Aug 30, 2016 8:15:11 AM


In thinking about the issue, it's useful to know the specific reasons for impeachment given in the resolution, so you can decide whether the charged offenses (perjury, destruction of evidence, etc.) are important enough to warrant impeachment. Here's the text:
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hres828/text/ih

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Aug 30, 2016 8:28:48 AM

Eric, I would be shocked if more than 10% of the signers had read that document or already knew everything in it. They simply support one side based on reports they've heard or read. It's like global warming (climate change if you prefer) in that respect.

If the signers listed their primary information sources on this topic, this blog would be way down the list if it were there at all.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Aug 30, 2016 9:13:16 AM

As Eric noted, the political affiliation would be more helpful in gauging this statement. The professors from my school are hard-left, and I would venture >90% of the signatories are Democrats (or Greens), perhaps even 100%.

Posted by: todd | Aug 30, 2016 11:02:48 AM

Regarding the destruction of records (Impeachment Article I), the precedent has already been set under this administration, by Secretary Clinton.

As *head* of a federal department, you can intentionally violate every record-keeping policy on the books, unilaterally destroy work-related emails by the thousands, arguably the greatest violation of the Federal Records Act in U.S. history according to the founding directory of the Justice Department's Office of Information and Privacy, and then make false statements about it to Congress and the public, and face no legal or disciplinary consequences whatsoever.

So why would IRS officials feel nervous about destroying a bunch of subpoenaed emails when the DOJ has no interest in prosecuting anybody for it?

Posted by: MM | Aug 30, 2016 1:36:19 PM

Just a bunch of profs with a high level of tolerance for corruption. If asked, they will also sign letters excusing Hillary's graft.

Dog bites man. Nothing to see here.

Posted by: neelynzus | Aug 30, 2016 2:23:40 PM

Impeachment or censure will harm the country by weakening our revenue system.

The system was weakened by the actions of the IRS and the Obama administration at large. People lost respect for the authority of the IRS because of how that authority was abused to persecute groups that Democrats view as unhumans.

The only way to restore that respect is for those responsible to be held accountable. Since that isn't going to happen, and our friends to the left cheer on these illegal actions to create new Jim Crow laws for non-Democrats, respect isn't likely to be restored for a long long time.

Posted by: wodun | Aug 30, 2016 3:42:11 PM

Go ahead if they think they can but time would be better spent doing something productive which we all know Congress has never done. As far as I am concerned both parties don't do a damn thing to improve things. No such thing as working together for the good of the country....like starting over with the tax code....getting rid of tax exempts, etc......we would not have this problem if we had a tax on income with no exceptions....no charitable deductions, no 501 whatevers.....But you guys just blow off your big mouths instead getting at the real problem ....Congress and both parties....vote the bastards out no matter what party and get in people who will change the laws little by little.....

Posted by: Sid | Aug 30, 2016 10:40:18 PM