Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Orin Kerr Leaves George Washington For USC

KerrUSC Press Release:

Orin Kerr, the nation’s leading authority on internet surveillance, computer crime law and criminal procedure, is joining USC Gould School of Law in January.

A law professor at George Washington University since 2001, Kerr’s scholarly publications have been cited in more than 2,500 articles and 250 judicial opinions. He has argued cases before the United States Supreme Court and in federal circuits as well as testified before Congressional committees.

“I am thrilled that Orin is joining our faculty,” said Andrew Guzman, dean of USC Gould. “I have followed his work for years, and hold him in the highest regard. Our faculty and students will greatly benefit from Orin becoming part of our intellectual community.”

A gifted litigator and renowned legal scholar, Kerr formerly worked as aJustice Department attorney in the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. A specialist in internet surveillance and computer crime law, he recently was one of the pro bono lawyers for a defendant sued by Facebook and previously defended MySpace “cyberbully” Lori Drew. He is also a celebrated teacher: The George Washington Law School Class of 2009 awarded him the law school’s teaching award.

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May 31, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ:  Deans Push To Lower California Bar Pass Score, But Lawyers With Lower Scores Are More Likely To Be Disciplined Or Disbarred

WSJWall Street Journal, California’s Tough Bar Exam, Long a Point of Pride, Faces Pushback:

California’s notoriously difficult bar exam has long been a point of pride among the state’s lawyers. Now it is prompting blowback.

With passing rates hitting historic lows, the state’s law schools are pushing for a controversial change: lowering the score required to pass. The educators argue that California holds graduates to an unreasonably high standard that no longer can be justified, especially as the price of law school skyrockets.

Others say lowering the bar would pander to a recent cohort of law students with weak credentials, and that law schools should either raise their own standards or shut their doors. ...

[T]he State Bar of California is racing to answer a series of existential questions: Is the stringent test—with a passing standard higher than all states but one—serving the public interest? And does the exam even test what incoming lawyers need to know?

A study released this week by two Pepperdine University School of Law professors, Robert Anderson IV and Derek Muller, concluded that California lawyers with lower bar exam scores were more likely to be disciplined or disbarred during their careers, based on limited publicly available data:

Robert Anderson IV (Pepperdine) & Derek T. Muller (Pepperdine), The High Cost of Lowering the Bar:

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May 31, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Gamage & Shanske:  The American Health Care Act Would Toss The States A Hot Potato

Hot PotatoDavid Gamage (Indiana) & Darien Shanske (UC-Davis), The American Health Care Act Would Toss the States a Hot Potato, 84 State Tax Notes 579 (May 8, 2017):

This essay explains how the American Health Care Act (AHCA) — the House Republicans’ proposed replacement for Obamacare — would toss a hot potato to state governments. Were the AHCA to be enacted into law, state governments would need to act promptly if they are to save individual insurance markets within their states. This essay explains measures that state governments might take to respond to this threat.

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May 31, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Chicago Law Schools Consider Accepting GRE As Test Alternative To LSAT

GRELSATFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Chicago Tribune, Chicago Law Schools Consider Accepting GRE as Test Alternative to LSAT:

In a move that shirks a tradition as old as baby boomers, law schools around the country are starting to consider accepting an admission test other than the LSAT. And Chicago-area schools are watching closely. ... 

Northwestern University's Pritzker School of Law in Chicago is studying the possibility of accepting the GRE. "This is a new world. Law schools are looking at much more sophisticated data," said Daniel Rodriguez, dean of Northwestern's law school. "It's just simply a matter of time, and probably a short amount of time, before the hegemony of the LSAT will destabilize and law schools will be looking at other criteria for admission.

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May 31, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

A Law School Should Not Impose Its Faculty's Social Justice Views On Students Through Mandatory Pro Bono Or Clinics (Unless There Is A Sufficient Variety Of Clinical Offerings)

Julie D. Lawton (DePaul), Teaching Social Justice in Law Schools: Whose Morality Is It?, 50 Ind. L. Rev. 813 (2017):

A few years ago, when I began interviewing for a position as a law professor, Pepperdine University School of Law invited me to interview for a position on their impressive law faculty. The Vice-Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee asked if I would send for their review, as part of their normal evaluation process, a statement of my research agenda and a brief description of my teaching philosophy. These requests are relatively standard, but the third request was quite unusual — the Chair asked if I would also provide a statement describing how I could contribute to the mission of the University and the law school, including, of note to me, a description of my involvement, if any, with a community of faith. I responded that I was uncomfortable with a discussion of my faith, or my involvement in a faith community, as part of my professional interactions, and thus, declined the interview. However, the experience remained with me as I pondered the question that their faculty at the law school had already answered — what role should the personal ethics and morality of a law professor play in teaching?

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May 31, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (10)

AALS Call For Papers: The Use Of Nonprofit Organizations In Political Campaigns

AALS (2019)The AALS Section on Nonprofit and Philanthropy Law, in co-sponsorship with the Section on Election Law, has issued a Call for Papers on The Use of Nonprofit Organizations in Political Campaigns for the Section’s program at the January 2018 AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego:

By the end of 2016, the nonprofit sector was on the verge of becoming politicized. In that year alone, Donald Trump vowed to destroy the “Johnson Amendment,” a rule of tax law that prohibits charities and all other 501(c)(3) organizations (including churches) from political campaign intervention; the IRS determined that Karl Rove’s nonprofit organization “Crossroads GPS” was a valid “social welfare” organization under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code; IRS Commissioner John Koskinen faced impeachment threats in the House of Representatives in the continuing aftermath of the IRS tea party targeting controversy of 2013; and federal courts in New York and California weighed in on the constitutionality of requiring the disclosure of nonprofit donors. All of these events relate to a growing pressure on the nonprofit form to be used for political purposes.

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May 31, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0)

Is Arizona Summit's $36k Stipend To Defer Bar A Lifeline For At-Risk Students Or Ploy To Disguise Abysmal 25% Pass Rate?

Arizona Summit Logo (2015)ABA Journal, Arizona Summit Offers Stipend For At-Risk Grads To Put Off Exam And Get Extra Bar Prep:

To participate in [the Legal Residency Program], Arizona Summit graduates would delay taking a bar exam; in exchange they got four months of specialized bar review courses, optional law clerk positions and a stipend of about $36,000. ...

But what may be a career saver for some law students has come under fire from some law school critics who see it as a way to change the bar-passage rates law schools are required to report under ABA accreditation standards. The cynical view is that money spent on the pilot program could be a cost of doing business for the law school, which has 279 students and charges $45,424 for annual, full-time tuition.

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May 31, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Arizona Summit, Placed On Probation Following 25% Bar Pass Rate, Ordered To Post $1.5M Bond To Repay Students If Law School Closes; Court Dismissed Lawsuit By Fired Tenured Married Couple

Batchelder:  77% Of Trump’s Giant New Tax Loophole Goes To The Top 1%

New York Times op-ed: Trump’s Giant Loophole, by Lily Batchelder (NYU):

One of the major goals of tax reform is to reduce the opportunities for savvy taxpayers to game the system. But if President Trump and House Republicans have their way, we will have a new contender for the tax code’s largest loophole: a new special cap on the tax rate for so-called pass-through business income.

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May 30, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

UC-Berkeley Adjunct Calls For Renaming Boalt Hall Due To John Boalt's 1870s Anti-Chinese Racism

Boalt HallSan Francisco Chronicle op-ed: The Case For Renaming Boalt Hall, by Charles Reichmann (Adjunct Professor, UC-Berkeley):

Many colleges and universities have grappled in recent years with a difficult question: Under what circumstances should an institution remove a historical name from a building or other campus space, and what principles should guide such a decision? ...

Berkeley Law’s main classroom building is named Boalt Hall after John Henry Boalt, whose widow, Elizabeth Josselyn, made a substantial donation to erect a building in memory of her husband, dedicated in 1911. ...

Who was Boalt? Berkeley Law’s website identifies him only as an attorney and the husband of its benefactor. An established lawyer in Nevada, Boalt moved to California in 1871 at a time when Chinese immigration was rising in the state. From the time of the Gold Rush, Chinese settlers had come to California, but the 1870s saw their numbers increase 67 percent. By 1880 a full 8.7 percent of California’s population was Chinese, with few eligible for citizenship. The 1870s were also an era of economic crisis and increasing class tensions. Labor groups — and politicians eager to court them — blamed the Chinese for unemployment, poor working conditions and low wages. The call for Chinese exclusion began to be heard in the Golden State.

Boalt prospered in California and soon was president of the Bohemian Club. In 1877, Boalt delivered an influential address, “The Chinese Question,” at the Berkeley Club. ...

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May 30, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (17)

George Fletcher Sues Columbia Law School For Age Discrimination, Says His Course Assignments May No Longer Allow Him To Teach One Semester Per Year For Full Pay

Columbia FletcherWall Street Journal, Columbia Fights Law Professor's Age-Discrimination Lawsuit:

Columbia University is battling allegations of age discrimination leveled by one of the elite school’s most prominent law professors.

Lawyers for the New York City-based university have asked a judge in Manhattan to dismiss a complaint brought by 78-year-old law professor George P. Fletcher, an influential scholar of criminal law.

Prof. Fletcher sued Columbia University and the dean of its law school in March, alleging that the administration was pressuring him to retire and giving favorable treatment to younger faculty members.

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May 30, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Anderson, Merritt & Muller Debate: Is The Bar Exam Broken?

California Bar ExamFollowing up on my previous post, Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), The Bar Exam Is Broken:

Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), Some Skepticism About Bar Exam Skepticism:

The pass rate on the California bar exam last July was the lowest since 1984. This has sent many people scrambling for an explanation for the dive in the pass rate. In reality, however, the reason for the drop is not mysterious. The main reason the bar pass rate dropped is that as law school applications declined beginning in 2010, schools have admitted weaker and weaker incoming classes that were less able to pass the bar. Although other factors likely played a role, especially the increasingly predatory law school transfer market, the decline in applicant quality is the main cause of the current "crisis" in the California bar exam.

The stress of declining bar pass rates has prompted many critics of the bar exam to emerge, especially among California law school deans. The California deans predictably contend that the passing score for the bar exam is too high in California. Other critics (including some law school deans) go farther, however, arguing that the exam lacks "validity" even if the passing score were changed. That is, the critics believe the exam doesn't test the skills that it is intended to test, regardless of how difficult it is to pass. According to these critics, although lowering the passing score in California might help, really the solution is to revamp the test altogether.

I refer to these critics as "bar exam skeptics," in the sense that they express profound doubt about the conventional wisdom that the bar exam tests "minimal competence" to practice law. One of the more thoughtful skeptics is Professor Deborah Merritt. ...

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May 30, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Monday, May 29, 2017

Welcoming The Pepperdine Law School Class of 2020

Courtney and I are very much looking forward to getting to know the incoming Pepperdine Law School Class of 2020 at a series of summer dinners, beginning tonight.

Caron Admitted Students Dinners

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May 29, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Business Of Law Is NOT Changing As Much As Pundits Claim

David Lat (Above the Law), 5 Ways In Which The Business Of Law Is NOT Changing Anytime Soon:

Journalists have a bias in favor of change. Something’s not “news” unless it’s new. Pronouncements of “seismic shifts” and “sea changes” generate more buzz and page views than saying things aren’t really changing all that much. This explains why we media types tend to go on breathlessly about “transformation” this and “disruption” that.

But picking up on the major theme of my story from yesterday about the latest Am Law 200 rankings, in which I argued that reports of Biglaw’s death (or even disruption) are greatly exaggerated, I’d like to provide more examples of how the practice and business of law aren’t changing as much as some might think. ...

3. Robots aren’t taking all your jobs.

Jamie Wine, global chair of the litigation department at Latham & Watkins, talked about how her firm is working with IBM (of Watson fame) to see how artificial intelligence can improve the delivery of legal services. But AI is still not a total substitute for actual lawyers. For example, artificial intelligence can streamline the due diligence process, but it’s still not perfect; for example, it’s not great at detecting when key provisions are missing from a contract.

As Stuart Ingis, chairman of Venable, added, “Computers aren’t yet able to advocate. We are being hired to advocate, whether in court or in a deal, and computers can’t yet do that.” ...

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May 29, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Memorial Day Tax Resources For U.S. Armed Forces (And Their Families, Employers)

IwaContinuing a TaxProf Blog Memorial Day tradition, I want to pass along links to the Tax Information for Members of the U.S. Armed Forces material maintained on the IRS web site:

The tax laws provide some special benefits for active members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including those serving in combat zones. For federal tax purposes, the U.S. Armed Forces includes officers and enlisted personnel in all regular and reserve units controlled by the Secretaries of Defense, the Army, Navy and Air Force. The Coast Guard is also included, but not the U.S. Merchant Marine or the American Red Cross. However, these and other support personnel may qualify for certain tax deadline extensions because of their service in a combat zone.

For dozens of links to military tax resources, see below the fold.

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May 29, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

New York Times College Rankings

New York Times Sunday Review, Top Colleges Doing the Most for the American Dream:

Welcome to the third annual College Access Index. It's a New York Times ranking of colleges — those with a five-year graduation rate of at least 75 percent — based on their commitment to economic diversity. The ranking is based on a combination of the number of lower-and middle-income students that a college enrolls and the price it charges these students. The top of the ranking is dominated by campuses in the University of California system, while the most diverse private colleges include Amherst, Pomona, Harvard and Vassar. Notably, a college's endowment does not determine its commitment to economic diversity. There are wealthy colleges and much less wealthy ones at both the top and bottom of the ranking.

NY Times

New York Times Sunday Review, The Assault on Colleges — and the American Dream:

The country’s most powerful engine of upward mobility is under assault.

Public colleges have an unmatched record of lofting their students into the middle class and beyond. For decades, they have enrolled teenagers and adults from modest backgrounds, people who are often the first member of their family to attend college, and changed their trajectories.

Over the last several years, however, most states have cut their spending on higher education, some drastically. Many public universities have responded by enrolling fewer poor and middle-class students — and replacing them with affluent students who can afford the tuition. ...

The decline of economic diversity at top public colleges is the clearest pattern in The Times’s third annual ranking of leading colleges — the roughly 170 nationwide with a five-year graduation rate of at least 75 percent. (Yes, you can be disappointed that so few colleges clear that bar.)

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May 28, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

Richard Bierschbach (Cardozo) Named Dean At Wayne State

Bierschhbach 2Richard Bierschbach (Cardozo) has been named Dean at Wayne State, succeeding Jocelyn Benson, who was the youngest woman to ever be a law school dean (and the only law school dean to run the Boston Marathon while eight months pregnant), who stepped down to be CEO of a national campaign for equality in sports. Bierschbach joined the Cardozo faculty in 2005 after clerking for Justice O'Connor and has a spectacular publication record as a criminal law scholar (with articles in the Georgetown, Michigan (2), Minnesota, Northwestern, Pennsylvania, Virginia (2) and Yale law reviews, among others).  He served as Vice-Dean at Cardozo from 2015-16 and since February 2017 has been Associated Law Professor at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in New York City (following over six years as Special Counsel at the firm).

Wayne State has attracted a lot of attention recently for its efforts to fire five underperforming tenured professors:

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May 28, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

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

  1. [323 Downloads]  The Offshore Tax Enforcement Dragnet, by Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane)
  2. [212 Downloads]  Can New York Publish President Trump's State Tax Returns? , by Daniel Hemel (Chicago)
  3. [194 Downloads]  A Global Treaty Override? The New OECD Multilateral Tax Instrument and Its Limits, by Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan) & Haiyan Xu (Michigan)
  4. [136 Downloads]  Recent Developments in Federal Income Taxation: The Year 2016 , by Martin J. McMahon Jr. (Florida) & Bruce A. McGovern (South Texas)
  5. [127 Downloads]  Why Don't White Supremacists Pay Taxes?, by Eric Franklin Amarante (UNLV)

May 28, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Raskolnikov:  A Tale of Two Tax Plans — What Trump And Ryan Get Wrong

Foreign Affairs 2Foreign Affairs:  A Tale of Two Tax Plans: What Trump and Ryan Get Wrong, by Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia):

Republicans have long panned the U.S. tax system; now they have a plan to change it. In fact, two plans. The first comes from Congress, the second from the White House. The congressional “Better Way” plan, championed by Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, and Kevin Brady, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, would create a business tax system that has never existed anywhere in the world. The White House plan would enact a massive tax cut, mostly for the wealthy.

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May 27, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

88% Of Law Firms Have 'Chronically Underperforming Lawyers': 'Decreasing Demand For Legal Services Is Endemic In The Profession'

ABA Journal, Law Firm Leaders Report Lawyer Oversupply and 'Chronically Underperforming Lawyers':

Fifty-two percent of law firm leaders responding to Altman Weil’s Law Firms in Transition Survey  said their equity partners are not sufficiently busy. Sixty-two percent said nonequity partners are not busy enough, and 25 percent said associates don’t have enough work. Eighty-eight percent of the leaders said they have “chronically underperforming lawyers” at their firms. When asked why, 82 percent identified weak business development skills and 59 percent said flat or declining market demand was part of the problem.

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May 27, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Last Weekly Tax Highlight And Roundup?

TaxProf Blog LogoOn August 1, 2016, I announced that, due to my growing other commitments, I was reducing the amount of time that I devote to TaxProf Blog by dropping my weekly tax, legal education, SSRN, and student tax note roundups.  Happily, Joe Kristan took over the weekly tax roundup, Scott Fruehwald took over the weekly legal education roundup, and David Gamage (Indiana), Ari Glogower (Ohio State), Daniel Hemel (Chicago), and Erin Scharff (Arizona State) took over the weekly SSRN roundup — and frankly have done better jobs than I did. (Regrettably, no one volunteered to take over the weekly student tax note roundup and it remains dormant.) 

As Joe describes below, this is the 31st and last installment of his weekly tax roundup on TaxProf Blog.  On behalf of all of my readers, I thank Joe for sharing his great work with us.  Joe belongs on the Mount Rushmore of tax bloggers.  We will miss him greatly. 

As I get ready to assume the Pepperdine deanship on June 1 (more here, here, here, here, and here), I am struggling to fulfill my commitment to continue TaxProf Blog.  If you are a law professor who has found TaxProf Blog a helpful resource and would like to help it continue by contributing legal education or tax content on a regular basis, please email me.

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May 26, 2017 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Ari Glogower (Ohio State) reviews a new work by Chris William Sanchirico (Penn), Optimal Redistributional Instruments in Tax Policy and Law & Economics: Survey and Assessment, in The Oxford Handbook of Law & Economics, Vol. 1: Methodology and Concepts 321 (Francesco Parisi, ed., 2017)

Glogower (2016)In his new work, Chris Sanchirico surveys the current literature on the optimal redistributional instruments, which seeks identify the most efficient policy tool(s) for redistribution.

Sanchirico identifies three broad strands in the literature.  First, the tax substitution argument generally holds that redistribution is best accomplished through a tax on labor earnings, because redistribution through any other policy can be substituted for redistribution through the labor income tax, at a lower cost.  As Sanchirico has argued in prior work, however, the assumptions about labor income taxation underlying the tax substitution argument could similarly be used to justify optimal redistribution through other policies or instruments.

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May 26, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Henderson:  The Number Of Law School Graduates Has Fallen 28% Amidst Declining Demand For Legal Services

Bill Henderson (Indiana), Supply of Law Graduates Is Shrinking, But So Is Demand:

Henderson 3

The ABA just released 10-months out employment data for the class of 2016.  The percentages of grads employed in full-time/long term Bar Passage Required and JD Advantage jobs is up (72.5% compared to 70.1% in 2015).  However, the total number of these jobs is down (28,029 to 26,923).

Is this good news for law schools? Not really.  The employment percentage is up only because the number of law grads is dropping faster than the number of jobs. But both numbers — grads (supply) and jobs (demand) — are declining. A true recovery would show the opposite.

The graph above reveals a dramatic drop in the number of law grads.  The green bars reflect historical data.   The orange bars are projections for the next three years based on incoming 1L classes that have already enrolled. (Based on a 10-year historical average, 90.1% of entering 1Ls receive a JD three years later.)  Between 2013 and 2019, the size of graduating classes will drop 28.0%.

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May 26, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

NY Times:  How London And Vancouver Tax Breaks Hollowed Out Hollywood's Visual Effects Industry

HollywoodNew York Times Sunday Magazine, Why Hollywood’s Most Thrilling Scenes Are Now Orchestrated Thousands of Miles Away:

The visual effects industry, and the “movie magic” blockbuster films spend huge shares of their budgets on, are being lured away from California — and into two of the most expensive cities in the world.

[W]hile visual effects’ role in movie making is growing, its presence in Hollywood is shrinking. From 2003 to 2013, at least 21 notable visual-effects companies went out of business, including Digital Domain, which produced the Oscar-winning effects in “Titanic.” Rhythm & Hues finally filed for bankruptcy protection in 2013, just days before winning an Oscar for “Life of Pi,” though it has since been revived under new ownership, working largely on TV shows like “Game of Thrones.”

One factor behind these companies’ failure is a raft of tax-incentive programs that have popped up around the world in an effort to lure cash-starved VFX production companies — and their high-tech jobs and movie glamour — out of California. The chief destinations, at the moment, are London and another even more expensive city: Vancouver, British Columbia. The stunning, Oscar-winning spacescape of “Gravity”? Created by London’s Framestore. The fantastical jungles of “The Jungle Book”? Most of the credit (and the Oscar) belongs to the London-based Moving Picture Company. The grand, galactic battles in “Star Trek Beyond”? That work was led by Double Negative in Vancouver. The companies that make billion-dollar blockbusters possible are barely hanging on, and — for the most part — they aren’t anywhere near Los Angeles.

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May 26, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Kim:  'Citizenship Taxation' — In Defense Of FATCA

Florida Tax Review  (2015)Young Ran (Christine) Kim (Utah), Considering 'Citizenship Taxation': In Defense of FATCA, 20 Fla. Tax Rev. 335 (2017):

Inspired by Ruth Mason’s recent article, Citizenship Taxation, [89 S. Cal. L. Rev. 169 (2016),] which reaches a general conclusion against citizenship taxation, this Article also questions citizen taxation under the same normative framework, but with a particular focus on efficiency and administrability, and takes a much less critical stance towards the merits of citizenship taxation.

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May 25, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (12)

Former UC-Hastings Dean's Advice To Those Considering Law School: 'Choose Wisely, My Friend'

Choose WiselyHuffington Post: Is Law School Worth It?’ It Depends!:  Choose Wisely, My Friend, by Frank Wu (Former Dean, UC-Hastings):

I hate hyperbole. And that’s no exaggeration. It’s likely a consequence of my profession: I teach law. So my business is training advocates, and, contrary to cartoon caricatures, you are more persuasive in a court governed by rules by emphasizing reason over rhetoric.

The debate over legal education nonetheless tends toward extremes. So-called scam bloggers allege legal education is worthless and ruins lives. Their opponents, whom they note rightly are not free of self-interest, insist on its abundant merit for the individual and doubtless necessity for our society. These claims are extravagant. They do not hold up.

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May 25, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morrow:  Accelerating Depreciation In Recession

Florida Tax Review  (2015)Rebecca N. Morrow (Wake Forest), Accelerating Depreciation in Recession, 19 Fla. Tax Rev. 465 (2016):

What would you do if on January 13, 2016, you had won the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot? The prize gives you the choice of a smaller lump sum now or the full jackpot parceled out for years to come. For the New York Times and numerous financial experts, the right choice is clear: take the money over time. While lump sums are nice, they are not worth a big discount when compared to “ultrasafe” income streams (like the Powerball annuity), especially in an “ultralow interest rate environment.”

What everyone understands about Powerball seems to elude us when it comes to the United States’ largest corporate tax expenditure. “Accelerated depreciation” rules give taxpayers a lump sum deduction now, rather than the gradual deductions they would normally claim. Called tax law’s “standard method for combating recessions,” accelerated depreciation has become the most important tax policy affecting businesses because it is thought to be an effective if costly way to stimulate the economy, particularly during tough economic times.

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May 25, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Introvert Law School Dean

IntrovertJane Byeff Korn (Dean, Gonzaga), The Dean As Introvert, 48 U. Tol. L. Rev. 298 (2017):

You might be thinking about becoming a dean. You wonder about whether you have what it takes, what you could offer to a law school, and what contributions you could make to advance the mission of a law school. There are many reasons to become a dean, and you probably know them already. If you are thinking about it, you are probably already an associate dean enjoying (usually) the challenges and opportunities offered by being an administrator. You are probably an effective teacher and scholar. You likely enjoy working with faculty, staff, and students, and are good at problem solving. But you might be unsure whether you have the personality to be a successful dean. In particular, if you are an introvert, you might question your ability to be an effective leader.

The common wisdom is that law deans are outgoing people with an easy ability to engage others in conversation and make small talk. In a world sometimes divided into extroverts and introverts, many people think that deans are extroverts and that if you are not an extrovert, you should not think about becoming a dean. I am an introvert and a dean; they are not mutually exclusive.

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May 25, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Shaheen:  Treaty Aspects Of The McDonald's State Aid Investigation

McDonaldsFadi Shaheen (Rutgers), Tax Treaty Aspects of the McDonald's State Aid Investigation, 86 Tax Notes Int'l 275 (Apr. 24, 2017):

Supporting the European Commission’s conclusion that Luxembourg was under no treaty obligation to exempt income attributable to a U.S. branch of a McDonald’s Luxembourgian subsidiary, this paper suggests two alternative methods for reaching the same result in ways that avoid possible obstacles in the commission’s approach.

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May 25, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

One Year After Arrest Of Alleged Hit Man, Prosecutors Are No Closer To Charging Adelsons In Murder Of Dan Markel, Despite 'Mountain Of Strong But Circumstantial Evidence'

Markel SuspectsTallahassee Democrat, Prosecutor Not Ruling Out Charges For Ex-In-Laws In Markel Case:

A year ago today, one of Tallahassee’s most enthralling whodunits took an explosive turn when Sigfredo Garcia was arrested at a Miami-area gas station.

His arrest began the dominos falling in a nearly two-year long investigation into who killed Florida State law professor Dan Markel. Soon enough, Garcia's arrest on murder charges would be followed by that of his alleged accomplice and the woman investigators say helped broker the deal between the hitmen and Markel’s former in-laws.

But a year later, none of those who investigators and prosecutors say paid to have Markel shot in his Betton Hills garage have been charged in connection with the July 2014 killing. Donna and Charlie Adelson, the mother and brother of Markel’s ex-wife Wendi Adelson, vehemently deny involvement in the plot despite being implicated as the instigators and financial backers of the murder-for-hire plot.

Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman said at this point there is a lack of direct evidence to arrest anyone in the Adelson family. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. She pointed out there is no statute of limitation for murder charges and the investigation continues.

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May 25, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Knoll Critiques Kleinbard's Influential Article Claiming That Competitiveness Has Nothing To Do With Inversions

Michael Knoll (Pennsylvania), Taxation, Competitiveness, and Inversions: A Response to Kleinbard, 155 Tax Notes 619 (May 1, 2017):

In a 2014 article [Competitiveness’ Has Nothing to Do With It, 144 Tax Notes 1055 (Sept. 1, 2014)], Professor Edward D. Kleinbard leaped into the center of [the inversion] debate. In that article, he contended that competitiveness arguments for corporate inversions are “almost entirely fact-free” and constitute “a false narrative,” and that “international business ‘competitiveness’ has nothing to do with the reasons for these deals.” He concluded that although the current U.S. tax system “is highly distortive and inefficient . . . one of the few deficiencies it has avoided is imposing an unfair international business tax competitive burden on sophisticated U.S. multinationals.”

Kleinbard and his article have played and continue to play a highly visible role in public policy debates over inversions.

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May 24, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Henderson:  Overcapacity In Legal Education

Bill Henderson (Indiana), A Measure of Overcapacity in Legal Education:


Between 1971 and 2010, the average entering 1L class at an ABA-accredited law school was 246 students with a very narrow band of fluctuation. The high-water mark was 262 in 2010. Every year since 2012 has set a new historical low. As the chart above shows, the average has tumbled by a staggering 31%. ...

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May 24, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Dodge:  The Personal Realization Income Tax

Florida Tax Review  (2015)Joseph M. Dodge (Florida State), The Fair Tax: The Personal Realization Income Tax, 19 Fla. Tax Rev. 522 (2016):

This article argues that the properly conceived fairness norm for taxation leads to a personal realization income tax. Fairness in taxation refers to “allocative tax fairness,” that is, the ethical/political standard according to which taxes are to be apportioned among the relevant population. In concrete terms, the standard constitutes the tax base for individual taxpayers. Allocative fairness is but one norm bearing on taxation, but it is one that (in academia, at least) has unjustifiably taken a back seat to economics and welfarist norms, largely due to the perception that allocative tax fairness lacks any specific content apart from the speaker's political and personal tastes and, therefore, by implication, is without independent normative grounding. The short riposte is that exclusive adherence to economic and/or welfarist norms is itself a matter of personal taste.

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May 24, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings 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 May 1, 2017) 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):







Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)



Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)


Lily Batchelder (NYU)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


Michael Graetz (Columbia)



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



James Hines (Michigan)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


David Weisbach (Chicago)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


David Gamage (Indiana)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


William Byrnes (Texas A&M)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


Brian Galle (Georgetown)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)



Dan Shaviro (NYU)


Jordan Barry (San Diego)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Bridget Crawford (Pace)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Steven Bank (UCLA)



David Walker (BU)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Steven Bank (UCLA)


Christopher Hoyt (UMKC)



Gregg Polsky (Georgia)


Yariv Brauner (Florida)


Note that this ranking includes full-time tax professors with at least one tax paper on SSRN, and all papers (including non-tax papers) by these tax professors are included in the SSRN data.

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May 24, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

After Hiring Lobbyist Who Helped Get Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Confirmed, Charlotte Law School Gets Federal Student Loan Lifeline

Charlotte DOEFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  National Law Journal, With New Lobbyists, Charlotte Law Disperses Federal Student Loans as School Year Ends:

The beleaguered Charlotte School of Law finally got some good news earlier this month when the U.S. Department of Education released federal loan money to some students just days before the spring semester ended. That development comes several months after the school hired a trio of lobbyists to make its case in Washington, one of whom helped shepherd Education Secretary Betsy DeVos through the confirmation process in January.

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May 24, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Ventry:  Trump's Tax Plan Will Boost, Not Reduce, Home Ownership

The Hill op-ed: Trump's Tax Plan Can Boost, Not Reduce, Homeownership, by Dennis J. Ventry, Jr. (UC-Davis):

President Trump’s tax plan has the housing industry in a tizzy. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says it puts “at risk ... targeted tax incentives” like the mortgage interest deduction (MID) and property tax deduction (PTD), which “help lower- and middle-class families purchase” a home. It would “effectively nullify the current tax benefits of owning a home for the vast majority of tax filers,” the NAR continues. In addition, it could make “home values plummet ... equity evaporate,” and Americans’ “nest eggs” disappear.

It sounds scary. But almost none of it is true. 

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May 24, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

3rd Annual Mid-Career Tax Professors Workshop Concludes Today At Arkansas

Arkansas Fayetteville LogoPanel #6

Susan Morse (Texas), Skewed Deference
Commentator:  Charlene Luke (Florida)

Jordan Barry (San Diego), Taxation and Innovation: The Sharing Economy as a Case Study
Commentator:  Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane)

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May 23, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0)

Battle Of The Network Stars Returns To Pepperdine

BattleToday is a big day at Pepperdine:  ABC starts filming a "reboot" of the Battle of the Network Stars, which was hosted on our campus and aired on ABC from 1976-1988. From Variety:

The original “Battle of the Network Stars” aired on ABC from 1976 to 1985 and featured teams representing ABC, CBS, and NBC competing in events such as kayaking, golf, three-on-three footbal, and tug of war. The show was hosted for most of its run by Howard Cosell. Among the co-hosts and competitors featured over the years were Ron Howard, Penny Marshall, Bruce Jenner, O.J. Simpson, Rob Reiner, LeVar Burton, Billy Crystal, David Letterman, Tony Randall, Robin Williams, Dick Van Dyke, Lynn Redgrave, Tom Selleck, William Shatner, and Michael J. Fox.

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May 23, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

House Holds Hearing Today On The Border Adjustment And International Tax Reform

Ways & Means (2016)The House Ways & Means Committee held a hearing this morning on Increasing U.S Competitiveness and Preventing American Jobs from Moving Overseas:

The hearing focused on border adjustment and international tax modernization as a core element of comprehensive tax reform and the implications of these policies for increasing jobs, investment, and economic growth in the United States.

Witness List
Juan Luciano
President & CEO, Archer Daniels Midland

Brian Cornell
Board Chairman & CEO, Target

William Simon
Former President & CEO, Walmart

Lawrence B. Lindsey
President & CEO, The Lindsey Group

Kimberly Clausing
Thormund A. Miller & Walter Mintz Professor of Economics, Reed College

Clausing 4

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May 23, 2017 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

2016-17 Moot Court Rankings

Moot Court2016-17 Moot Court Rankings:

1.   South Texas
2.   Oklahoma
3.   St. Mary's
4.   Stetson
5.   Georgetown
6.   SMU
7.   Chicago-Kent
8.   Texas Tech
9.   Michigan State
10. UC-Hastings
11. Pepperdine
12. McGeorge
12. Wake Forest
14. Ohio State
15. Mississippi College

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May 23, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Kades:  Reducing Inequality With A Progressive State Tax Credit

Eric A. Kades (William & Mary), Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: Reducing Inequality with a Progressive State Tax Credit, 77 La. L. Rev. 359 (2016):

Widening economic inequality is fast becoming the defining social problem of this era. Although there are a number of policy mechanisms available for addressing the problem, taxation is the first and best tool for the job. The federal income tax code is already moderately progressive and thus partially counteracts growing inequality in before-tax incomes. State taxation, however, is an entirely different matter: every single state has some combination of sales, property, and income taxes that, taken together are regressive: average (“effective”) state tax rates fall as income rises. It is perverse that taxation in each and every state exacerbates instead of ameliorates the nation’s burgeoning income inequality.

Figure 8

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May 23, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Weber:  Killing Zombie Mortgages With Differential Property Taxes

David P. Weber (Creighton), Taxing Zombies: Killing Zombie Mortgages with Differential Property Taxes, 2017  U. Ill. L. Rev. 1135 (2017):

Zombie mortgages and abandoned properties are costly problems for cities and counties across the country. The term “zombie mortgage” is meant to, and hopefully does, evoke images of undead mortgages that are nearly impossible to eliminate. In the legal literature, the term is used to describe the circumstance when a lender or mortgagee has initiated foreclosure proceedings, the homeowner has quit the premises, and the lender later abandons the foreclosure process, often without notifying the owner of record. The mortgages, accompanying fees, and real estate taxes are “zombies” because the affected homeowner cannot escape them by abandoning the property, even after notice of eviction. Generally, the affected homeowner cannot shed these “zombies” through bankruptcy, either.

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May 23, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, May 22, 2017

3rd Annual Mid-Career Tax Professors Workshop Kicks Off Today At Arkansas

Arkansas Fayetteville LogoPanel #1

Jennifer Bird-Pollan (Kentucky), Sovereignty, Tax, and BITs
Commentator: David Herzig (Valparaiso)

John Brooks (Georgetown), Income Tax as Wealth Tax
Commentator:  Rebecca Kysar (Brooklyn)

Emily Cauble (DePaul), Tax Law’s Inconsistent Treatment of Gains and Losses
Commentator:  Heather Field (UC-Hastings)

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May 22, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences | Permalink | Comments (1)

WSJ:  Law Firms Finally Say It’s OK to See a Therapist

Wall Street Journal, Law Firms Finally Say It’s OK to See a Therapist:

Big firms have long been reticent to openly address addiction and other mental-health problems, despite research showing lawyers face higher rates of substance abuse, depression and suicide than the wider population. Law-firm leaders say the need to keep up appearances in a competitive industry has contributed to the resistance.

That attitude, however, is slowly changing.

Some U.S. law firms are tackling mental-health issues head-on. They’re offering on-site psychologists, training staff to spot problems and incorporating mental-health support alongside other wellness initiatives. ...

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May 22, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Private Investigator's Attempt To Obtain Donald Trump's Tax Return Led IRS To Shut Down FAFSA Data Retrieval Tool; Who Hired Him?

FAFSAIRSFollowing up on my previous posts:

Diverse Issues in Higher Education, FAFSA Hacker Targeted Trump Tax Info:

The person accused of a 2016 attempt to use a web-based federal student-aid tool to illegally obtain taxpayer information is a Louisiana-based private investigator who used the tool to target then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, court records obtained by Diverse show.

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May 22, 2017 in IRS News | Permalink | Comments (0)

GOP Senate Cuts UNC Law School's Budget 30% As Payback To Liberal Faculty (Especially Gene Nichol), Rankings Slide From 20 (1979) To 39 (2017)

North Carolina LogoFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  News & Observer, The GOP Crafts a Message to UNC, With a Chain Saw:

The state Senate took a chain saw to the University of North Carolina law school this month, cutting nearly a third of the state appropriation for one of the nation’s oldest law schools.

The official explanation from the Republican-controlled Senate is that we have too many lawyers in North Carolina. But not even the teenaged pages in the Senate believe that.

The GOP is sending a message: It thinks the law school faculty is liberal leaning, it doesn’t like the Center for Civil Rights, and it particularly doesn’t like Gene Nichol. ...

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May 22, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (35)