Paul L. Caron

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Harrison:  The Trumpian Discourse About Florida's Graduate Tax Program

Florida Logo (GIF)Following up on my prior posts (links below) on Florida's graduate tax program:  Jeff Harrison (Florida), The Trumpian Approach to Discourse at Florida:

A few days ago Rob Rhee wrote AND SIGNED a report that was highly critical of Florida's LLM in tax program. ... There are two reasonable responses to a report like Rob's. You can disagree with the numbers. ... Or you can claim that his assumption that the tax program should generate a profit is wrong. Since I do not understand why taxpayers should subsidize a program that trains people to assist people and businesses with money to avoid paying taxes, I personally think it needs to generate a significant profit. But we could debate that and I already know some good counter-arguments.

Privately several members of the tax faculty concede that it needs to modernize. A starting point was to assign it to classrooms that fit the number of people enrolled and to find a director to ensure the program flourished. These changes and others were unacceptable to some and the Trumpian name calling and accusations of distortions started. Those most terrified by change and most willing to sacrifice the program to suit their personal desires revved up alums many of whom did not need to hear both sides of the story because, like Trump, their heroes could do no wrong. They had joined the ranks of true believers for whom truth was irrelevant.

Like I said, if people support the UF tax program they need to deTrump their approach and put on some evidence that disproves Rob's points or makes a compelling case that he has misunderstood what a graduate tax program should do.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

Legal Education, Tax | Permalink


Sounds less like Trump than Joe Paterno

Posted by: mike livingston | Sep 18, 2016 2:51:54 AM

On Saturday, at a public meeting with members of the board of trustees, the tax alumni advisory board, and some members of the tax faculty, Assoc. Dean Liz Lear clearly, distinctly and without equivocation denounced Prof. Rhee's memo. Dean Lear, who suggested that she was there on behalf of the Dean who had to leave early for another appointment, expressed her utter disgust and disappointment with Prof. Rhee's actions. She further promised to work with others to prove that the data was fake and purposefully misleading. She was visibly upset by the havoc and harm that Prof. Rhee has caused. There was discussion that this false information was peddled and spread around the school last academic year by Assoc. Dean Mashburn. This fake information was debunked, but still used by Prof. Rhee in his efforts to tarnish the tax program, it's professors, it's students and its alumni. It was great to see an official member of the administrator stand up for the tax program and against Prof. Rhee. Good job, Dean Lear!!! Cheers!
Numbers have already been provided that disprove Prof. Rhee's data. In fact, the real numbers show that Prof. Rhee was grossly incompetent or purposefully malicious. Prof. Rhee's data isn't even close . In fact, Prof. Harrison and Rhee (and maybe assoc dean Mashburn) are the only ones pushing those debunked numbers. Obviously, they have axes to grind.

Posted by: Jenna | Sep 18, 2016 5:52:04 AM

Jenna writes: "Numbers have already been provided that disprove Prof. Rhee's data. In fact, the real numbers show that Prof. Rhee was grossly incompetent or purposefully malicious."

Maybe I just missed this, and if so I apologize. But do you have a link to the real numbers that prove/disprove the arguments?

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Sep 18, 2016 6:20:42 AM

I attended the meeting as well. Very strange that there was a police officer with a visible gun and taser in the small room. On another note, the alumni took time and energy preparing for and attending the meeting. It was disappointing the Dean left so quickly. She knew for many weeks about the meeting. She could have simply told everybody in advance that she wasn't going to attend. It was encouraging that Liz Lear condemned Rob Rhee's actions, intentions and memo. It was more interesting how many times Lear said the Dean doesn't listen to her or anybody. Regardless, a productive meeting where everybody seemed to care about the program. The program is not in disrepair, but every program can improve and should plan for transitions in the future.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 18, 2016 8:18:38 AM

I am not a tax prof but I do teach at UF. I might have to subscribe to your blog, as it seems to be the place to learn about what is going on at our school. There was a comment from @Jenna who thanked Associate Dean Lear for being the first official voice to denounce the Rhee memo. I can assure you that none of the faculty know that Professor Lear is an official voice, as we have never been told that she is an Associate Dean. How quickly tables the official Associate Dean, Amy Mashburn, who is Rosenbury's biggest cheerleader seems to be the one who will be thrown under the bus for Rhee's memo, when it strains credulity to hear that the dean did not know or approve of the memo on some level.

Posted by: Michelle Jacobs | Sep 18, 2016 9:09:52 AM

WIth all due respect to Professor Jacobs, I am the Dean's biggest cheerleader. More seriously, if the dean did know about the report, can you imagine the outrage if she attempted to squelch it.

Posted by: Jeffrey harrison | Sep 18, 2016 10:36:54 AM

I see you just decided to ignore the part of the "report" where he trashes LLM students of the same university he teaches in...

Posted by: CEM | Sep 18, 2016 11:22:26 AM

Professor Harrison does often speak enthusiastically of the dean''s decisions, but he is not part of the administrative circle that must bear the weight of her actions. In this regard Associate Dean Mashburn, is the person who receives most of the negative reactions when it is believed she is enforcing the Dean's policies. And the current administration suppresses, and omits information on a routine basis. If the Rhee memo was not intended to get out, it would not have gotten out.

Posted by: Michelle Jacobs | Sep 18, 2016 1:26:54 PM

You would think that a law school that only hires and employs liberal faculty would get along better. Such a disappointment.

Posted by: Chris | Sep 18, 2016 5:50:14 PM

Prof. Harrison,
Your comment: “Since I do not understand why taxpayers should subsidize a program that trains people to assist people and businesses with money to avoid paying taxes . . . ” is underwhelming to the point of being insulting to me as a reader and to you as a supposed educator. It would be just as appropriate to imply that the criminal law faculty should not be paid for by taxpayers because it “trains people to assist people with their business of continuing to commit crimes” or some other myopic characterization that is common parlance of lay people unfamiliar with the true workings of our various legal systems. And while it is common to hear this from lay people, it is utterly shocking from a member of the bar (which I suppose that you are). Without beating the old drum of (those that can’t do, teach), suffice it to say that you fundamentally lack an understanding of the practice of tax lawyers. You overlook that a significant portion of our graduates go onto work for the IRS, Treasury Dep’t and other Government entities balancing the supposed “tax avoidance” that our graduates counsel on. You do not understand what you preach, and for that you are a fool. Your lack of understanding re the practice of tax law illustrates quite concisely why you are totally unqualified and out of your element re the teaching of tax law, which is why you should withhold your misguided comments and defer to the experts (McMahon, Calfee, Burke, Willis, Lokken, Brauner, Luke, among others) that have guided and fostered this program into the nationally ranked juggernaut that it is. I would focus your efforts on raising the JD’s bar passage rate, which like your comments was underwhelming (for July 2016)!

Posted by: Tucker Thoni | Sep 19, 2016 10:03:53 AM

I am a fool to be sure and I would subsidize the education of any law student, including those seeking an LLM, if he or she goes into public service. That way, taxpayers get a return on the investment in human capital. On the other hand, subsidizing those that work for private individuals or corporations is simply subsidizing an input aimed at maximizing profit or conserving wealth. Why not just give the same entities other inputs like free raw materials or utilities? Unlike the availability of attorneys for those accused of crimes, there is no public goods rationale for subsidizing the education of those who apply their tax training to maximize profit or retain wealth. Of course, this all changes if tuition is equal to the full cost of their education which may be the case at Florida now or soon. In that case, the University sells a product and I have no objection.

Posted by: Jeff Harrison | Sep 19, 2016 12:14:25 PM

Bravo Professor Jacobs. You appear to be 100% correct.

Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 19, 2016 5:51:10 PM

Professor Harrison:
Your comments regarding the UF LL.M. In Tax Program are ridiculous. Although I received my LL.M. in Tax degree from NYU School of Law, I have taught tax courses at Tulane Law School for more than 15 years. During this time, I had many JD students who expressed an interest in a UF LL.M. in Tax Degree.I prepared many letters of recommendation to Uf on behalf of these students, many of whom are now employed

Posted by: Robert W. Nuzum | Sep 19, 2016 6:43:56 PM

Professor Harrison:
Many of your statements are utterly ridiculous and reflect a complete lack of knowledge and understanding of an LL.M. in Taxation Program.

Posted by: Robert W. Nuzum | Sep 19, 2016 6:49:09 PM

by DOJ (Tax Division), IRS, Chief Counsel, District Counsel and state tax authorities. These "subsidized students" perform vital functions of collecting unpaid and underpaid tax revenues and enforcing the voluntary self-pay taxing system.
I would suggest that you familiarize yourself with the nuisances of an LL.M. in Taxation Program before making such unfounded statements and cheering Professor Rhee's unsubstantiated and self-serving conclusions.

Posted by: Robert W. Nuzum | Sep 19, 2016 7:05:28 PM


Posted by: Jeffrey harrison | Sep 19, 2016 7:22:49 PM

Professor Harrison, don't you drive a Porsche 911? Watch out for your liberal blindspot while tooling around Gainesville in your $90k car, paid for with taxpayers dollars to boot!

Posted by: LLM Grad | Sep 19, 2016 7:43:04 PM

Now you have gone too far. It was Ok for people to comment without reading what they purport to be commenting on. Name calling, irrational rants. All OK. BUT when you accuse me of dring a 90K cheesy 911 when in fact I drive a Astin Martin, you've gone too far. Way too far. How too far? WAY.

Posted by: Jeffrey harrison | Sep 21, 2016 5:02:36 PM

Jeffery Harrison, the only thing "Trumpian" about the discourse following Robert Rhee's letter is your insatiable need to respond to every comment on taxprof regardless of if its even directed towards you. Anything and everything said is contorted into a perceived slight to you, and you cannot help but fire back into the great blogosphere abyss. In this regard, you are a insufferable internet troll (much like Mr. Trump). Additionally, you are an embarrassment to the law school faculty (much like Robert Rhee).

Posted by: LLM2015 | Sep 27, 2016 1:12:19 PM