Paul L. Caron

Monday, April 30, 2018

Kuehn: Mandatory Professional Skills Training In Law Schools

KuehnTax Prof Blog op-ed:  Mandatory Professional Skills Training: What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been, by Robert Kuehn (Associate Dean for Clinical Education, Washington University):

The ABA first adopted standards for accreditation of law schools in 1921. But, as explained in a recent article by my colleague Peter Joy,[1] it was not until 1993 that schools were required to provide a program of education that would prepare students for the practice of law, not simply for admission to the bar. And not until 2005 did schools have to begin to ensure that each J.D. student receives instruction in the professional skills necessary for effective participation in the legal profession. Even then, the ABA determined that a student needs only “one solid credit” hour of skills training to be considered adequately prepared to begin the practice of law.

Since the adoption of a professional skills requirement, law school enrollment has declined precipitously, graduates have struggled to find employment, and bar passage rates have dropped in many states. In the midst of this turbulent period, in 2014 the ABA recognized the inadequacy of its one-credit skills requirement and adopted a six-credit experiential requirement that will apply to graduates starting next year. With a decade of mandatory professional skills training now completed, it is a good time to examine enrollment trends in law clinic, externship, and simulation courses over the past ten classes of law students.

Reviewing data submitted to the ABA in annual questionnaires certified by each school’s dean to be true, accurate, and complete,[2] there has been significant growth in enrollment in experiential courses since academic year 2005-2006. Total enrollment in law clinic, externship, and simulation courses has increased by almost 25% over the past ten years,


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April 30, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Oh: Are Progressive Tax Rates Progressive Policy?

Jason Oh (UCLA), Are Progressive Tax Rates Progressive Policy?, 92 NYU L. Rev. 1909 (2017):

Why do income tax systems across the world consistently feature progressive marginal rates? The existing literature tells a political story focusing on the top of the rate schedule and the preferences of the poor and middle class. According to this standard view, higher rates at the top result from the poor and middle class using the political process to “soak the rich.” However, this explanation is inconsistent with research showing that public policy is generally more responsive to the preferences of the rich. Explaining marginal rate progressivity as a universal (and exceptional) triumph of the poor and middle class rings hollow.

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April 30, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Some Women Are Getting RBG Tattoos

Refinery29, Why Some Women Are Getting RBG Tattoos:

RBGThe documentary film RBG, in theaters May 4, portrays Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a hard-nosed workaholic with more than a few wins for women's rights under her jabot. But it also highlights, rather pointedly, her influence on The Youths. In several scenes, fawning would-be attorneys run up to her to ask for her autograph or take a selfie. ...

While flattered by superfans who get tattoos of her face, the 85-year-old has also said she was "a little distressed that people are really doing that." It's permanent. She's more traditional than that. But this hasn't stopped people from commemorating her with ink.

Amy Wallace, a 34-year-old attorney in Minneapolis, got a Rosie the Riveter-inspired RBG sleeve last year, which had a blink-or-you'll-miss-it cameo in the new film. "Justice Ginsburg is my only personal hero, and as an atheist, my adoration of her is the closest thing I get to personal worship," she told Refinery29. "The secular iconography of Rosie the Riveter mashed up with Justice Ginsburg seemed like a perfect articulation of the way I feel about her." The idea for it came after seeing someone else's tattoo of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a modern, feminist twist (A.K.A. standing inside a vulva instead of surrounded by a religious halo).

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April 30, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thomas: What Do Audits Teach Us About Tax Compliance?

Jotwell (Tax) (2016)Kathleen DeLaney Thomas (North Carolina), What Do Audits Teach Us About Tax Compliance? (JOTWELL) (reviewing Taxpayer Advocate Service Research Report, Audits, Identity Theft Investigations, and Taxpayer Attitudes: Evidence from a National Survey (2017)):

For those interested in understanding taxpayer compliance—including what motivates taxpayers to report honestly and how to reduce tax evasion – there is a robust body of empirical and legal literature. A number of economists and lawyers have examined the effect of traditional deterrence mechanisms like audits and penalties, as well as non-economic factors like social normsguilttaxpayer attitudes about how their tax money is spent, and other psychological factors. While this growing body of literature provides a rich description of the myriad of factors that influence tax compliance decisions, our understanding of taxpayer behavior is far from complete, and further study continues to be necessary. In expanding our understanding of taxpayer motivations, one revealing but possibly overlooked resource is the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service(“TAS”), which each year publishes a number of empirical studies and other reports relevant to tax compliance. The authors of TAS studies are uniquely situated in that they have access to IRS tax return data, which should provide the best evidence of how taxpayers make decisions in the real world.

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April 30, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Frakt: Did The ABA Find WMU-Cooley In Compliance With Accreditation Standards As Part Of Lawsuit Settlement?

Thomas Cooley Logo (2017)Following up on Thursday's post, ABA: Western Michigan-Cooley Law School Is Now In Compliance With Accreditation Standards:  David Frakt, The ABA Finds Thomas Cooley In Compliance. But Why?:

The ABA made a surprise announcement this week, reversing their earlier decision that WMU Thomas Cooley Law School was out of compliance with Admissions Standard 501(b) and finding the school is now in compliance. So how did the least selective law school in the country convince the ABA to let it off the hook? I have been trying to make sense of this decision and have a theory. But before I share it, let’s review the history. ...

[T]he ABA’s finding of non-compliance was completely justified. In fact, Cooley’s admissions practices were worse in almost every respect than all of the other dozen schools that the ABA has found to be out of compliance with Standard 501(b). ...

[H]ere is my theory of what is really going on:  the Council’s decision must be part of a settlement between the ABA and Cooley to resolve the lawsuit that Cooley has filed against the ABA.  Cooley must have agreed to make significant changes to their admission practices (the key words in the ABA Letter are “concrete steps taken by the Law School with respect to its admissions policy and practices”) and drop their lawsuit in exchange for the ABA finding that the school is now in compliance.   Maybe Cooley agreed to pay for the ABA’s legal fees as well. I expect to see an announcement in the near future that the suit has been voluntarily dismissed.    Anything else just doesn’t make sense. ...

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April 30, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Lesson From The Tax Court: The Cohan Doctrine Cannot Always Save You

Tax Court (2017)One of the first clients I had after graduating from law school in 1987 was a fellow in the construction business. I forget what dispute brought him to us, but I will never forget the “records” he brought: a truckload of paper bags. Turns out that each year he would set a paper grocery bag on the floor and, as the year went by, he would dump anything he thought important into the grocery bag ... if he remembered to do so. You can guess who got to go through all his paper bags.

I am sure many of you have encountered clients with similar, if not more pathetic, record-keeping practices. Readers well know that taxpayers bear the burden of production to show why they are entitled to claimed deductions. To do that they need to keep good records.

If taxpayers don’t keep good records, however, they can sometimes get lucky under what is commonly called the Cohan doctrine. For those interested, my blog here explains the doctrine and its history.  Basically, the doctrine says that if the taxpayer can prove the fact of an expense, but not the exact amount of the expense, the Tax Court will make its own estimate of the amount, “bearing heavily if it chooses upon the taxpayer whose inexactitude is of his own making.” Cohan v. Commissioner, 39 F.2d 540, 544 (2d Cir. 1930).

Two weeks ago I blogged here about a taxpayer who got lucky when the Tax Court judge spotted an issue that both the taxpayer’s attorneys and the IRS attorneys had overlooked, saving the taxpayer some $42,000 in taxes.  This week we look at a case, Stanislav Antoniev Dimitrov v. Commissioner, T.C. Summary Opinion 2018-21, that teaches a lesson about the limits to getting lucky under the Cohan doctrine.

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April 30, 2018 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Vanderbilt Hosts Summit On Law And Innovation

SOLIVandyABA Journal, SoLI Summit and its Facilitators Seek to Spur Innovation in Legal Profession and Education:

Creating connections and collaborations between people across the legal world, including academics, practitioners, legal technology experts, and others. Moving the legal profession and legal education into the 21st century and beyond. Those are the goals of an April 30 summit at Vanderbilt Law School called SoLI: The Summit on Law and Innovation.

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April 30, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pelicans Crash Pepperdine's Graduation

This never happened at graduation in Cincinnati!

April 30, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, April 29, 2018

5,000 Pastors Rally To Defend Housing Tax Break Ruled Unconstitutional

Christianity Today, 5,000 Pastors Rally to Defend Housing Tax Break Ruled Unconstitutional; Appeal: Exemptions Do More Than Just Save Pastors $800 Million a Year:

When a pastor responds to late-night prayer request or invites congregants to his home for Bible study, is he just doing his job or going beyond the call of duty?

The lawsuit over the longstanding benefit, launched by the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) seven years ago, has entered another round of appeals. The Christian defendants, represented by Becket, filed their written appeal in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals late last week.

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April 29, 2018 in IRS News, New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tax Implications Of President Trump's Deregulatory Agenda

Treasury Department Logo (2017)Following up on my previous post, Treasury Proposes Repeal Of 298 Tax Regulations:  Press Release, Treasury Releases Report Highlighting Regulatory Reform Accomplishments:

The U.S. Treasury Department today released a report detailing its accomplishments in support of the President’s regulatory reform agenda. ... The Department’s regulatory reform accomplishments include:

  • Eliminating, reducing, or proposing to eliminate more than 300 regulations in total, including ineffective, unnecessary, or out-of-date “deadwood” regulations;
  • Reducing Treasury’s regulatory agenda by approximately 100 items, year-over-year, from Fall 2016 to Fall 2017;
  • More than 250 specific Treasury recommendations to reform and reduce the burdens of regulation in the U.S. domestic financial system;
  • Introducing zero new significant regulatory actions under Executive Order 13771.

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April 29, 2018 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: How Liberty University Built A Billion-Dollar Empire Online

Liberty 3Following up on my previous post, An Online Kingdom: How Liberty U. Became a Model for the Future of Higher Education With Pervasive Christian Faith and Marketing, No Faculty Tenure:  New York Times Magazine, How Liberty University Built a Billion-Dollar Empire Online:

Liberty is spread out on more than 7,000 acres overlooking Lynchburg, a former railroad-and-tobacco town on the James River below the Blue Ridge Mountains. The student body on campus is 15,500 strong, and the university employs more than 7,500 people locally. Throughout the university grounds, there is evidence of a billion-dollar capital expansion: mountains of dirt and clusters of construction equipment marking the site of the new business school; the $40 million football-stadium upgrade, to accommodate Liberty’s move into the highest level of N.C.A.A. competition; and the Freedom Tower, which at 275 feet will be the tallest structure in Lynchburg, capped by a replica of the Liberty Bell.

Jerry Falwell Jr., who has led the university since 2007, lacks the charisma and high profile of his father, who helped lead the rise of the religious right within the Republican Party. Yet what the soft-spoken Falwell, 55, lacks in personal aura, he has more than made up for in institutional ambition. As Liberty has expanded over the past two decades, it has become a powerful force in the conservative movement. The Liberty campus is now a requisite stop for Republican candidates for president — with George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney all making the pilgrimage — and many of Liberty graduates end up working in Republican congressional offices and conservative think tanks.

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April 29, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

SSRN LogoThis week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's list, with some reshuffling of the order of the papers within the Top 5:

  1. [858 Downloads]  Evaluating the New US Pass-Through Rules, by Dan Shaviro (NYU)
  2. [358 Downloads]  The Impact of the 2017 Act's Tax Rate Changes on Choice of Entity, by Jim Repetti (Boston College)
  3. [346 Downloads]  Taxing Income Where Value Is Created, by Allison Christians (McGill) & Laurens van Apeldoorn (Leiden)
  4. [326 Downloads]  Explaining Choice-of-Entity Decisions by Silicon Valley Start-Ups, by Gregg Polsky (Georgia)
  5. [323 Downloads]  Taxation of Investments in Bitcoins and Other Virtual Currencies: International Trends and the Brazilian Approach, by Flavio Rubinstein (Fundação Getúlio Vargas) & Gustavo Gonçalves Vettori (University of São Paulo)

April 29, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 28, 2018

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

How Politicians Use Corporate Welfare For Political Gain

IncentivesNew York Times op-ed:  Do Taxpayers Know They Are Handing Out Billions to Corporations?, by Nathan M. Jensen (University of Texas; author, Incentives to Pander: How Politicians Use Corporate Welfare for Political Gain (Cambridge University Press 2018)):

Every year, states and local governments give economic-development incentives to companies to the tune of between $45 billion and $80 billion. Why such a wide range? It’s not sloppy research; it’s because many of these subsidies are not public. ...

Economic development all across the country is getting less open — and both Democrats and Republicans are doing it. In fact, in many cases, the politicians themselves aren’t even the ones negotiating for the public.

How do communities balance the tremendous opportunity of attracting a world-class company against the taxpayer costs, the pressures on our infrastructure and our struggles of providing affordable housing? ...

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April 28, 2018 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Berkeley Law School Dean Set The World Cycling Record

MollyGreat article about Molly Shaffer Van Houweling (Wikipedia), Harold C. Hohbach Distinguished Professor of Patent Law and Intellectual Property, Associate Dean for J.D. Curriculum and Teaching, and Co-Director, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology at UC-Berkeley Law School:  ESPN, How Berkeley Law School Dean Molly Shaffer Van Houweling Set the World Cycling Record:

Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, an associate dean at the University of California, Berkeley law school, teaches classes on intellectual property and serves on the board of a number of legal and technology organizations.

And in her free time, she has set national and world records in track cycling.

In September 2015, she broke the cycling hour record that had stood for 12 years by riding 46.273 kilometers (28.75 miles) in 60 minutes around a track in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Suddenly the international cycling community was wondering: Who is this professor?

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April 28, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Estate Tax After the 2017 Tax Act

Baker InstituteRice University Baker Institute for Public Policy, The Estate Tax After the 2017 Tax Act:

Although Benjamin Franklin once stated that death and taxes are the only certainties in life, the timing of death and the amount of taxes owed are certainly not. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA, Pub. L. 115–97) leaves the federal wealth transfer tax system in place, but temporarily doubles the exclusion amount for estate and gift taxes to $11.18 million per individual or $22.36 million per married couple until the end of 2025. In 2026, absent congressional action, the base exclusion amount will revert to $5 million, indexed for inflation. This issue brief examines the implications of this change for taxpayers as well as its impact on federal and state governments.

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April 28, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Scharff Reviews Cauble's Accessible Reliable Tax Advice

This week, Erin Scharff (Arizona State) reviews a new article by Emily Cauble (DePaul), Accessible Reliable Tax Advice, 51 U. Mich. J. L. Ref. 589 (2018):

Scharff (2017)The U.S. legal system requires all parties, both sophisticated and unsophisticated, to navigate its shoals.  Sometimes the results are tragic, as preschoolers must represent themselves in immigration court. (John Oliver was quick to find some humor in this absurdity.)  But even in less extreme examples, non-experts can find themselves thwarted, confused, and frustrated in their attempts to comply with the law or assert their legal rights.  For example, victims of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workforce report difficulties navigating complex reporting processes.    Lawyers and other specialists provide guidance to a small subset of this population, but those without access to experts are quite obviously disadvantaged.

Tax law, of course, is a quintessential example of a complicated system of legal rules enforced against both sophisticated and unsophisticated parties.  Emily Cauble’s latest article, Accessible Reliable Tax Advice, explores the challenges confronting unsophisticated taxpayers as they prepare their returns and seek tax advice and offers some suggestions to improve the situation.

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April 27, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Did Paul Ryan Fire The House Chaplain For Tax Cut Blasphemy?

House ChaplainNew York Magazine, Paul Ryan Allegedly Ousted House Chaplain for Disrespecting His Tax Cuts:

Under the Trump administration, we’ve learned that Paul Ryan is willing to shrug off racist remarks from the president, and has no problem enabling attacks on the rule of law. But one thing that will not be tolerated in Ryan’s House is a man of God suggesting that tax cuts should be fair to all Americans.

When Ryan announced earlier this month that House Chaplain Patrick Conroy would soon step down, he gave no explanation for his exit, and many assumed he was leaving voluntarily. But anger erupted on the Hill in recent days when the Jesuit priest told lawmakers that Ryan was pushing him out, and he didn’t know exactly why. ...

On Thursday Democratic sources pointed to a potential explanation: a prayer Conroy offered on November 6, 2017, when the House was on the verge of passing the GOP tax bill.

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April 27, 2018 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Grewal: Scott Pruitt’s Security Detail — A Tax Problem?

Following up on my previous post, Scott Pruitt’s Travel Could Leave Him With A Big Tax Bill:  Andy Grewal (Iowa), Scott Pruitt’s Security Detail–A Tax Problem?:

Over at PostEverything, Professors Daniel Hemel and David Herzig argue that Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, “could be in tax trouble on top of his ethical and political problems.” Hemel & Herzig, Scott Pruitt’s travel could leave him with a big tax bill (Apr. 16, 2018). The authors note that Pruitt’s employer (the federal government) provides him with an extensive security detail, and that employees who receive such details must ordinarily recognize income for this fringe benefit. See Section 61(a)(1).

Hemel and Herzig acknowledge that Section 132(a)(3) excludes some working condition fringes from gross income, but they do not believe Pruitt’s security detail so qualifies.[FN1] Under the relevant regulations, employees may exclude security detail services from income only if a “bona fide business-oriented security concern exists,” such as those raised by death or kidnapping threats. See Treas. Reg. §§ 1.132-5(m)(2)(i) & (ii). If that threshold standard is satisfied, then a further “overall security program” requirement applies. According to Hemel and Herzig, this requirement will be satisfied only if the program protects “the employee on a 24-hour basis” and the employer relies on an “independent security study” for an employee. They then posit that “Pruitt has not obtained the independent study required under IRS rules,” and that some portion of his security detail “would appear to be income on which the EPA administrator owes tax.”

The authors misstate the relevant law, however. The security study rules operate as a safe harbor to the “overall security program” requirement, and do not establish an independent test. That is, the provision of an independent study is just one way that a security arrangement may comply with the regulations. Thus, Hemel and Herzig err when they rely on the purported absence of a security study to establish Pruitt’s failure to comply with the regulations. ...

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April 27, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tax Prof Nancy Shurtz To Return To Teach At Oregon Law School In Fall 2018 After Controversy Over Her 2016 Halloween Costume

ShurtzFollowing up on my previous post (links below):  Daily Emerald, Law Professor Nancy Shurtz to Return After Sabbatical:

University of Oregon law professor Nancy Shurtz, who was at the center of controversy in fall 2016 after a photo of her in black makeup at her Halloween party circulated online, will return to campus in July, following her one-year sabbatical in Florida.

Shurtz said after the incident that her costume was inspired by the memoir of a Black doctor dealing with racism in the U.S., and she intended for the costume to “provoke a thoughtful discussion on racism in our society.” Many in the UO community criticized her costume for including blackface makeup; over 1,200 UO students signed a petition calling on her to resign and 23 of Shurtz’s fellow faculty members penned an open letter calling on her to resign as well. ...

Following the incident, the university launched an investigation that found Shurtz guilty of violating UO’s anti-discrimination policies. As a result, Shurtz was placed on administrative leave. Shurtz will return to campus in July and teach classes in the fall.

“My heart is racing,” Shurtz said in an email interview with the Emerald. “Is the question am I ‘excited’ or ‘terrified’? This leave and sabbatical has been a long one, so I have missed being home and am eager to get back to the great Northwest, my home of 38 years.”

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April 27, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Finland Ends Basic Income Experiment After Two Years

BasicThe Guardian, Finland to End Basic Income Trial After Two Years:

Europe’s first national government-backed experiment in giving citizens free cash will end next year after Finland decided not to extend its widely publicised basic income trial and to explore alternative welfare schemes instead.

Since January 2017, a random sample of 2,000 unemployed people aged 25 to 58 have been paid a monthly €560 (£475), with no requirement to seek or accept employment. Any recipients who took a job continued to receive the same amount.

The government has turned down a request for extra funding from Kela, the Finnish social security agency, to expand the two-year pilot to a group of employees this year, and said payments to current participants will end next January.

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April 27, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judge Dismisses Most Of Charlotte Law Prof's Whistleblower Lawsuit Because Claims Had Been Publicized On Law Prof Blogs, But Blasts InfiLaw's Business Model

Charlotte Logo (2016)Daily Business Review, For-Profit Law School Whistleblower Suit Survives—Barely:

A federal judge has kept a whistleblower lawsuit against the for-profit law school consortium InfiLaw Corp. alive, albeit on life support.

Judge Roy Dalton Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on Monday granted InfiLaw’s motion to dismiss the qui tam suit filed in 2016 by former Charlotte School of Law professor Barbara Bernier, who alleges the school and its corporate owners defrauded the federal government of more than $285 million by admitting unqualified students in order to pocket their government-issued loans. Dalton ruled that InfiLaw’s myriad problems had already been publicly disclosed in news stories and posts written on law faculty blogs before Bernier file her suit.

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April 27, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

ABA: Western Michigan-Cooley Law School Is Now In Compliance With Accreditation Standards

Thomas Cooley Logo (2017)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  ABA Journal, Cooley Law Back in Compliance, ABA Accreditation Committee Says:

Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School has come into compliance with an admissions standard that requires accredited schools to only admit candidates who appear capable of finishing law school and gaining admission to a state bar, according to public notice recently posted by the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

The section’s council in November 2017 affirmed an accreditation committee finding that Cooley was not in compliance with Standard 501(b), which focuses on admissions, and Interpretation 501-1, which discusses factors to consider in admissions.

The school filed a temporary restraining order motion on Nov. 14 to prevent the council from making the letter about the notice public. The motion was rejected in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. A lawsuit Cooley filed against the ABA, alleging that posting the letter violated the Higher Education Act and common-law due process, is pending. On April 23, U.S. District Court Judge Arthur J. Tarnow set a May 1 status conference for the lawsuit, according to court notices published on PacerPro.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

April 26, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rich States, Poor States

RSPSArthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore & Jonathan Williams, Rich States, Poor States (11th ed. 2018):

The 11th Edition of Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index reveals a pro-growth trend across the nation for 2018.

The 11th edition of Rich States, Poor States is characterized by great movement in state economic performance and outlook as a result of federal tax reform and the resulting actions of certain states. In the past five years alone, 30 states have significantly reduced their tax burdens. Those that fail to adapt to this competitive environment can fall behind by simply standing still. The facts remain clear that pro-growth policies are working and there is a clear trend in favor of market-oriented reforms.

Rich States, Poor States examines the latest trends in state economic growth. The data ranks the 2018 economic outlook of states using 15 equally weighted policy variables, including various tax rates, regulatory burdens and labor policies. The eleventh edition examines trends over the last few decades that have helped or hurt states’ economies.

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April 26, 2018 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Concord Law School Dean Seeks Greater Credibility After Acquisition By Purdue University

Concord PurdueFollowing up on my previous post, Purdue Is No Longer The Only Big Ten University Without A Law School:  ABA Journal, Concord Law Dean Sees Benefits With Acquisition by Purdue University:

Purdue University’s transaction to acquire Kaplan University, including Concord Law School, is complete, and Martin Pritikin says that he doesn’t expect any changes in day-to-day operations at his online law school, now known as Concord Law School at Purdue University Global.

But he’d like to get more credibility with the Purdue name. The deal, finalized March 22, brought 30,000 students from Kaplan University, according to a Purdue press release.

April 26, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Barker: Tax, Facts, And State Law

William B. Barker (Penn State), The Disconnect Between Tax Concepts and the World of Fact: State Law as the Gatekeeper, 57 Washburn L.J. 129 (2018):

Because private law establishes a system that makes economic enterprise possible, one ordinarily can presume that taxpayers chose a particular legal form in order to achieve fairly well-understood economic effects. Where legislatures decide to impose different tax consequences on the basis of different economic consequences, it is logical that the legislature would often use a shorthand reference to private law categories due to their usual economic consequences. Sometimes, however, private law can be out of sync with important aspects of economic and social conditions that may be critical to the goals of taxation. After all, private law assessment is only one perspective on human activity. On its own, private law can hardly provide comprehensive knowledge of the full richness of human activity which may be necessary for fair and equitable taxation. Tax interpretation has other non-legal sources of knowledge available which can complete the picture more in accord with policies and goals of tax incidence. In part, these differences in private and tax law’s objectives can be seen by observing how the interpretation and application of tax concepts to the facts of the taxpayer’s situation demonstrates that tax law shifts between accurate and inaccurate depictions of economic conditions.

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April 26, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

GOP Tax Reform Law Continues To Sink In Polls

Real Clear Politics Poll Average, Trump, Republicans' Tax Reform Law:


April 26, 2018 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (1)

Oh & Zolt: Wealth Tax Add-Ons — An Alternative To Comprehensive Wealth Taxes

Jason Oh (UCLA) & Eric M. Zolt (UCLA), Wealth Tax Add-Ons: An Alternative to Comprehensive Wealth Taxes, 158 Tax Notes 1613 (Mar. 19, 2018):

Comprehensive wealth taxes offer the possibility of reducing inequality while raising revenue. However, implementing comprehensive wealth taxes can be difficult, especially in emerging economies where administrative and political limitations are often substantial. This Article offers an alternative set of instruments — wealth tax add-ons — that countries can use to achieve many of the goals of a comprehensive wealth tax. Rather than trying to tax all wealth with a new tax instrument, add-ons would target and tax particular forms of wealth and be attached to existing tax systems. This Article focuses on three different types of add-ons: (1) a surtax on real property for the property tax system, (2) a minimum tax for closely-held businesses for the corporate tax system, and (3) a Netherlands-style presumptive tax for financial assets for the personal income tax system. Add-ons can improve the taxation of disparate forms of wealth in ways that are difficult to incorporate into a single instrument. For example, we argue that wealth in the form of closely-held businesses is best taxed at the entity level to avoid the problems of attribution and valuing minority interests — challenges that would face any comprehensive wealth tax applied at the individual level.

This Article presents an analytical framework for how particular countries might pick and tailor these wealth tax add-ons.

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April 26, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Boston's Supply Of Lawyers Falls Far Short Of Firms' Heavy Demand

Boston Business Journal, Boston's Supply of Lawyers Falls Far Short of Firms' Heavy Demand:

Demand for legal talent may never have been higher in Boston — and it's far outpacing the number of available attorneys, according to managing partners and legal recruiters.

April 26, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Liscow: Distributional Impacts From School Finance Litigation

Zachary D. Liscow (Yale), Are Court Orders Sticky? Evidence on Distributional Impacts from School Finance Litigation, 15 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 4 (2018):

Whether welfare analysis of legal rule changes should evaluate distributional outcomes as well as efficiency depends crucially on how much their distributional impacts stick. That is, do court mandates ultimately affect the distribution of taxes and spending or do legislatures offset the distributional consequences of those court orders with other changes? Little is known about this question. To offer insight into it, I use an event study methodology to show how state revenues and expenditures respond to court orders to increase funding for schools.

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April 26, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Brooks Reviews Tillotson's The Citizen-Taxpayer And The Rise Of Canadian Democracy

Jotwell (Tax) (2016)Kim Brooks (Schulich School of Law), Canadians Can Be Unruly, See For Yourself (JOTWELL) (reviewing Shirley Tillotson (Dalhousie University), Give and Take: The Citizen-Taxpayer and the Rise of Canadian Democracy (2017)):

Some of my favourite tax scholarship steps outside technical detail and speaks to how tax systems promote or are informed by higher-order values. So, I welcome Shirley Tillotson’s magnificent and richly researched new book on the era between the enactment of Canada’s federal income tax law in 1917 and its heady 1960s reform period, which saw taxpayer-citizens actively debating the contours of democracy through the vehicle of tax reform. At its heart, the book is about what we can learn about democracy from our engagement with taxation and how our democracy can be enhanced when we find ourselves talking about taxes over coffee. ...

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April 25, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Maynard: The NCAA Infringes On The Freedom Of Families

NCAA LogoGoldburn P. Maynard Jr. (Louisville), They’re Watching You: How the NCAA Infringes on the Freedom of Families, 2018 Wis. L. Rev. Forward 1:

The NCAA’s surveillance of the family and enforcement of its rules amounts to a consumption restraint on the families of talented NCAA athletes. In order to keep its cartel in place, the NCAA must ensure that not only an athlete but anyone in his family does not extract any value from his talent. These rules disproportionately disadvantage poor individuals of color.

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April 25, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Feeder Colleges For Law School Applicants

AccessLex, Law School Applicants by Degrees: A Per Capita Analysis of the Top Feeder Schools:

In this research publication, AccessLex Institute explores "applicant concentration" at the top 240 feeder schools, as published in the Law School Admission Council's (LSAC) Top 240 Feeder Schools for ABA Applicants list. The resulting "per-capita" figures help contextualize the feeder school trends.

Table 2

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April 25, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Browde: A Consumer Protection Rationale For Regulation Of Tax Return Preparers

Pippa Browde (Montana), A Consumer Protection Rationale for Regulation of Tax Return Preparers, 101 Marq. L. Rev. 527 (2017):

Of the 150 million tax returns filed each year, approximately fifty-six percent are prepared with the help ofa paid preparer. Although state-licensed lawyers and certified public accountants may prepare tax returns for clients, the vast majority ofpaid tax return preparers are completely unregulated. For low-income taxpayers who are eligible for refundable tax credits, these unregulated tax return preparers do more than just fill out tax returns. Return preparers who serve low-income taxpayers often also market consumer credit products, such as refund anticipation loans or checks.

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April 25, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Muller: Visualizing Law School Employment Outcomes In California, DC-Maryland-Virginia, Illinois, New York, And Ohio

Following up on my previous post, Visualizing Law School Employment Outcomes In Florida, Pennsylvania, And Texas:  Derek Muller (Pepperdine) has published several additional posts (with great charts and tables) in his annual series visualizing employment outcomes of law school graduates in various states:  CaliforniaDC-Maryland-Virginia, Illinois, New York, and Ohio.

In California, the overall placement rate soared to 72%, with of 20 of the 21 law schools reporting increases (Stanford reported the only decline: -0.1%).  Pepperdine was one of three California law schools with a double-digit (10%) increase:


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April 25, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Graetz: The 2017 Tax Cuts — How Polarized Politics Produced Precarious Policy

Michael J. Graetz (Columbia), The 2017 Tax Cuts: How Polarized Politics Produced Precarious Policy:

In this lecture, Michael Graetz contends that the new tax law is unstable. This is hardly surprising because it was rushed through Congress in record time with only Republican votes and no ability for public comments on its changes. The new rules create significant new differences in tax burdens based on what kind of business is conducted, where goods and services are bought and sold, whether individual workers are employees or independent contractors, and where people live.

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April 25, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Why Florida International Dominates The Florida Bar Exam

FIU LogoDaily Business Review, Why FIU Dominates the Florida Bar Exam:

When it comes to earning the top spot for performance on the Florida Bar exam, the secret’s in the hands-on training.

At least that’s how Florida International University acting law dean Tawia B. Ansah explains FIU’s No. 1 ranking, outpacing all others as the school with the highest percentage of first-time candidates succeeding on the bar exam.

“You can take really good bar-prep courses … but if the leadup to that isn’t sufficient, it’s going to show up in the results,” said Ansah, a Columbia University graduate who teaches contracts, international business transactions, conflict of laws, professional responsibility and jurisprudence/legal theory. “I think our students are doing well on the bar because they’re learning how to write well and communicate well, and they’re learning communication skills throughout the program.”

Eighty-five percent of FIU’s first-time test takers passed the February exam, according to the results the Florida Board of Bar Examiners released Monday. Last year, 87.8 percent passed the July exam, which has a much larger pool.

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April 25, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Recoupling Founders With Their IP: Improving Innovation By Rationalizing I.R.C. Section 351

Mira Ganor (Texas), Recoupling Founders with Their IP – Improving Innovation by Rationalizing IRC Section 351 (Licensing vs. Assignment of Founders’ IP in VC Backed Start-Ups):

This Article questions the conventional wisdom of the U.S. practice of early assignment of founder’s intellectual property to the venture capital backed startup-company. The Article shows that certain U.S. tax rules motivate founders to rush to assign their individually owned intellectual property to the startup-company rather than license it to the company. This tax enhanced distortion of the founders’ choice may have socially inefficient effects that under certain circumstances hinder innovation by decoupling the intellectual property from those who are most apt to exploit it. Thus, this Article offers for consideration, proposals to reform the current tax treatment of intellectual property transfers.

The proposed reform will level the playing field from a tax perspective and prevent distorting the founders’ choice between intellectual property assignment and intellectual property licensing.

April 25, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Schön Presents Taxation And Democracy Today At NYU

SchoenWolfgang Schön (Max Planck Institute) presents Taxation and Democracy at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Lily Batchelder and Daniel Shaviro:

Political economy assumes that taxation and democracy interact beneficially when there exists “congruence” or “equivalence” among those who vote on the tax, those who pay the tax, and those who benefit from the tax. Yet this only holds true when we look at the community of taxpayers as an aggregate, not at the position of the individual taxpayer. Individuals might regard democratic decision-making as a tool for the majority to exploit the minority. They might also perceive powerful special interest groups to extract preferential tax treatment to the detriment of other constituencies.

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April 24, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Slemrod Presents U.S. Enforcement Against Evasive Foreign Accounts Today At Georgetown

Slemrod (2017)Joel Slemrod (Michigan) presents Taxing Hidden Wealth: The Consequences of U.S. Enforcement Initiatives of Evasive Foreign Accounts at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by Lilian Faulhaber and Itai Grinberg:

In 2008, the IRS initiated efforts to curb the use of offshore accounts to evade taxes. This paper uses administrative microdata to examine the impact of the enforcement efforts on taxpayers’ reporting of offshore accounts and income. Enforcement caused approximately 60,000 individuals to disclose offshore accounts with a combined value of around $120 billion. Most disclosures happened outside offshore voluntary disclosure programs by individuals who never admitted prior noncompliance. The disclosed accounts were concentrated in countries whose institutions facilitate tax evasion. The enforcement-driven disclosures increased annual reported capital income by $2.5-$4 billion corresponding to $0.7-$1.0 billion in additional tax revenue.

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April 24, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Mystery Of The Dead Law School Dean

DeadMark S. Silver, Res Ipsa Loquitor: The Mystery of the Dead Law School Dean (2017):

Not everybody is accepted to Yale Law School. David Balfour will attend LUNY Law School where he will have to contend with the oddities of jurisprudence and a harrowing academic load, all the while trying to solve the Mystery of the Dead Law School Dean. David and his law school friends will negotiate a new terrain as 1L students on a journey to become lawyers after passing the bar.

About the author:

I am a New York State Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I have a Combined Specialist Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science from the University of Toronto and a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario. I have also completed a Master of Social Work at the University of Toronto, a post-graduate Certificate Program in Family Therapy at Smith College, and a Doctor of Psychology at the Southern California University for Professional Studies.

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April 24, 2018 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Hungerford: History Shows That GOP's Corporate Tax Cuts Are Unlikely To Spur Economic Growth

Thomas L. Hungerford, Latest Tax Cuts: History Belies Promise of Growth:

One provision of The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA; P.L. 115–97), enacted on December 22, 2017, dramatically reduces the statutory corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. It is projected to cost the U.S. Treasury over $1.3 trillion over the next 10 years. Given widespread Republican concerns about federal budget deficits just eight years ago, it seems odd to call for tax changes that lower rates, reduce tax revenue, and increase deficits. The putative impetus for these calls is the belief that the statutory corporate income tax rate is too high–providing an excessive burden on U.S. corporations that leads to poor economic performance. This article examines corporate income-tax rates between 1946 and 2016 (before TCJA), and the argument linking low corporate tax rates with higher economic growth. This analysis finds no evidence that high corporate tax rates have a negative impact on economic growth. The new lower corporate income-tax rate is unlikely to spur economic growth.


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April 24, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Michigan Law Review Tax Book Reviews

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April 24, 2018 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Senate Holds Hearing Today On Early Impressions Of The New Tax Law

Senate LogoThe Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing today on Early Impressions of the New Tax Law (livestream at 2:30 pm EST):

We are just four months into our new, modernized tax system and we have already started to see tax reform’s benefits roll in — companies are investing their savings in America’s workforce, utility bills are dropping, and dollars that were locked out overseas are coming home,” Chairman Hatch said. “But given that this was the largest tax rewrite in more than three decades, we still have work to do to support the new law’s implementation. This hearing will allow Finance Committee members to take a look at early impressions of the new tax code.


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April 24, 2018 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Double Life Of Law Schools

Ian Holloway (Dean, Calgary) & Steven Friedland (Elon), The Double Life of Law Schools, 68 Case W. Res. L. Rev. ___ (2018):

The law school of 2025 will soon appear around the corner. An increasingly asked question is what will legal education look like? Will it look like the Langdellian model of the past 120 years, centered on the coverage of appellate case reports, leavened by a modest degree of experiences and some tweaks? Or will its shape transmogrify, becoming a blend of technology, Carnegie, and a redesigned marketplace?

Our view is that by the year 2025, law school will indeed be dramatically different. But how different depends on who wins the war between the traditional education, tracing back to the days of Langdell in the 1870s, and the repositioned drivers influencing legal education today from inside and out. In a word, we are living in a time of struggle — struggle for control of the soul of legal education.

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April 24, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Jensen: Graduate Education And The Taxation Of Tuition Reductions

Erik M. Jensen (Case Western), Graduate Education and the Taxation of Tuition Reductions, 158 Tax Notes 1187 (2018):

While the legislation popularly (or unpopularly) known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was working its way through Congress, many colleges and universities were afraid that the repeal of Internal Revenue Code section 117(d), as provided in the House version of the bill, would have catastrophic effects on American graduate education. The concern was that, after repeal, graduate teaching and research assistants would be taxed on their tuition reductions, and the measure of the income would be determined using the stated tuition figure — the sticker price — for the academic institution. Section 117(d) survived, but it could come under challenge again and it’s worth considering what difference repeal would really make.

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April 24, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 23, 2018

Michelle Layser To Join Illinois Tax Faculty

LayserMichelle D. Layser (Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown) has accepted a tenure-track tax position at Illinois, beginning in August 2018:

Professor Layser is currently a Research Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center, where she teaches a course on social justice and taxation. Professor Layser's legal scholarship focuses on the intersection of tax law and social policy, touching on such diverse issues as housing and segregation, unequal taxation of same-sex families, the potential role of non-profits in supporting news production, and tax incentives for investment in clean energy technologies. Her most recent paper is forthcoming in 2018 in the Indiana Law Journal (How Federal Tax Law Rewards Housing Segregation). She has also published three articles in the flagship law reviews at Missouri (Improving Tax Incentives for Wind Energy Production: The Case for a Refundable Production Tax Credit), Utah (The Quest to Save Journalism: A Legal Analysis of New Models for Newspapers from Nonprofit Tax-Exempt Organizations to L3Cs), and Hawaii (Tax Justice and Same-Sex Domestic Partner Health Benefits: An Analysis of the Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act).

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April 23, 2018 in Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)