TaxProf Blog

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Cui Presents The Digital Service Tax Today At Pennsylvania

Cui (2018)Wei Cui (British Columbia) presents Arguments in Defense of the Digital Service Tax at Pennsylvania today as part of its Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series hosted by Michael Knoll, Chris Sanchirico, and Reed Shuldiner:

Do digital platforms, operated by multinational companies, give rise to new profit tax bases? Do they support new claims to, or new desirable international allocations of, taxing rights with respect to MNC profits? Within the last year, these questions have been forcefully raised by bold proposals advanced by the European Commission (EC) and the UK government. Reactions among both practitioners and academics to the EC and UK proposals have been predominantly negative. In this paper, I abstract from the EC and the UK’s particular policy formulations and canvas broader economic efficiency arguments that may be constructed to support a digital service tax (DST). I show that there is a variety of plausible arguments in favor of a DST: dismissive criticisms directed against it miss some of its most basic and obvious rationales. Rather than whether such a tax has any adequate justification, a topic worthier of discussion is what might be the best design of such a tax—which depends on how its expected welfare effects, including its incidence and resulting distortions, vary according to design.

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October 31, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Arizona Summit And Valparaiso Law Schools To Close

The Best Halloween Tax Tweet

Lederman

October 31, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

July 2018 Ohio Bar Exam Results

Ohio State Bar LogoHere are the July 2018 Ohio Bar Exam results for first-time test-takers:

Bar Pass

Rank (Rate)

 

School

US News Rank

OH (Overall)

1 (92.5%)

Cleveland State

4 (113)

2 (88.1%)

Ohio State

1 (32)

3 (84.2%)

Toledo

5 (137)

4 (81.5%)

Case Western

2 (65)

5 (79.2%)

Cincinnati

2 (65)

6 (71.3%)

Capital

Tier 2

7 (70.6%)

Ohio Northern

Tier 2

8 (69.6%)

Dayton

6 (141)

9 (64.8%)

Akron

7 (144)

October 31, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Tax Consequences Of A Haunted House

Ghost BustersCharles Edward Andrew Lincoln IV (Tax LL.M. 2018, Boston University), The Tax Consequences of a Haunted House:

If a seller has been estopped legally from denying the existence of ghosts and poltergeists on the premises—thus meaning the house is haunted a matter of law, then how should the haunting be added in to the cost basis for tax purposes? More generally, if a house is legally haunted, what does this mean for tax purposes?

In the famous popular 1st year law student case—colloquially known as the Ghostbusters case—Stambovsky, v. Ackley, the New York Court of Appeals deftly wrote, “as a matter of law, the house is haunted” If a seller has been estopped legally from denying the existence of ghosts and poltergeists on the premises—thus meaning the house is haunted a matter of law, what does this mean for tax purposes?

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October 31, 2018 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Best Law-Themed Halloween Costumes

As we await the winners of Above the Law's 9th Annual Legally Themed Halloween Costume Contest:  here are my two favorites from prior years:

Assault and Battery (2010):

Assault and Battery

Original Intent (2012):

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October 31, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Corporate Tax Benefits From Politicians’ Hometown

Chunfang Cao (Sun Yat-Sen University), C.S. Agnes Cheng (Hong Kong Polytechnic University), Changyuan Xia (Southwestern University of Finance and Economics) & Cheng Zeng (University of Manchester), Corporate Tax Benefits from Politicians’ Hometown:

This paper investigates the impact of the geographic coincidence of firms and political leaders on corporate tax benefits. Taking advantage of a unique tax disclosure rule in China, which allows us to identify firm-specific tax benefits, we find that firms enjoy more favorable tax treatments if their registered city is the incumbent provincial leader’s hometown.

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October 31, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Don't Be A Lawyer

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Kleiman Presents Tax Limits And Public Control Today At UC-Hastings

KleimanAriel Jurow Kleiman (San Diego) presents Tax Limits and Public Control at UC-Hastings today as part of its Tax Concentration Speaker Series:

Local governments are severely restricted in their ability to raise tax revenue, in part by state-level statutes that place caps on local tax rates and revenue. Many attribute the proliferation of these local tax limitations to entrenched antitax sentiment among U.S. taxpayers. This antitax narrative is attractive for its simplicity and explanatory power. It provides a clear mandate for those enacting tax limiting laws as well as a simple fiscal rubric for those evaluating the success of such limits—namely, lower taxes equals success. However, the explanatory power of the antitax narrative is limited. Perhaps most notably, it fails to explain why voters regularly approve tax increases, even in places with strict tax limitations. Using the lens of the 1970s Tax Revolt, this Article complicates the traditional antitax narrative surrounding tax limitations, offering evidence that voters also supported tax limits in order to increase public control and oversight of local government fiscal decisions.

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

Most Students Are Afraid To Disagree With Their Professors

Wall Street Journal, Most U.S. College Students Afraid to Disagree with Professors:

Many U.S. college professors now regularly share their own social and political beliefs in class, and their students feel increasingly afraid to disagree. That’s according to a new national survey of undergraduates due out next week.

When students were asked if they’ve had “any professors or course instructors that have used class time to express their own social or political beliefs that are completely unrelated to the subject of the course,” 52% of respondents said that this occurs “often,” while 47% responded, “not often.”

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October 30, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Can the TCJA Save The Corporate Income Tax?

Baker InstituteRice University Baker Institute for Public Policy, Can the TCJA Save the Corporate Income Tax?:

The tax cuts passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump last year offer a starting point offer for revitalizing the corporate income tax (CIT), according to experts at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Jorge Barro and Joyce Beebe, fellows in public finance, outlined their insights in a new issue brief,  Can the TCJA Save the Corporate Income Tax?. The brief provides a historical overview of the CIT, its key provisions and the implications of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) for businesses. 

"Before the TCJA, the CIT was one of the most criticized taxes in the U.S.,” the authors wrote. “The statutory tax rate was high, the tax base was narrow and the tax could be avoided by switching to a different business structure or by shifting corporate profits to a different jurisdiction. However, practical and theoretical considerations indicate that the CIT is here to stay. Therefore, reform instead of repeal has long been the focus of CIT discussions."

The corporate income tax share of total federal government revenues has been steadily declining since the end of World War II.

Baker 1

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October 30, 2018 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Rise And Fall Of The Federal Clerkship Training Academy

HeritageFollowing up on my previous post, Heritage Foundation Suspends Clerkship Boot Camp After NY Times Questions Secrecy, Loyalty Oaths:  National Law Journal, Invasion of the Clerkship Snatchers? The Rise and Fall of the Federal Clerkship Training Academy:

Last week, New York Times reporter Adam Liptak caused a momentary firestorm across the legal community. Liptak reported that the Heritage Foundation had announced it was sponsoring a three-day Federal Clerkship Training Academy for graduating law students who would be clerking in the federal judiciary. It was not the idea that future law clerks would be trained prior to beginning their employment that caused the uproar; the outrage revolved around the type of training that would be provided as well as the secret nature around the training sessions.

According to the training academy’s application, the academy was designed to prepare participants “to excel as clerks in the U.S. federal court system.” Attendees would not focus, however, on such mundane matters as deciphering the federal sentencing guidelines or drafting jury instructions. Instead, the cornerstone of this preparation would be teaching attendees originalist and textualist judicial philosophies. ...

Reaction to the news story was instantaneous and almost universally negative, with prominent law professors, social scientists and former governmental officials denouncing the training academy as tantamount to an indoctrination camp where new generations of conservative lawyers would be created and set loose on the legal world. Not only did commentators bemoan that the training academy would increase the political polarization of the men and women who clerked in the federal courts, but some darkly muttered that the lessons learned at the academy might help conservative law clerks wield substantive influence over judicial behavior. Within a day, the Heritage Foundation announced that that it was halting its plans to offer the training academy. ...

[M]y own reaction to the training academy was more bemusement than outrage because of the essential nature of a clerkship.

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

Yale Symposium: Reflections On The 2017 Tax Act

Yale Law Journal Logo (2018)Symposium, Reflections on the 2017 Tax Act, 128 Yale L.J. F. 315-431 (Oct. 25 2018):

The 2017 Tax Act, sometimes called the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, has been heralded by some as historic reform and by others as Armageddon. This Collection analyzes the Act, exploring the process by which it was passed, the values that undergird its policies, and how specific provisions will affect the structure of the U.S. and global economy moving forward.

  • Michael J. Graetz (Columbia), Foreword—The 2017 Tax Cuts: How Polarized Politics Produced Precarious Policy, 128 Yale L.J. F. 315 (Oct. 25 2018):  "This Essay argues that the 2017 Tax Act provides neither an effective nor stable solution to the nation’s economic and fiscal challenges."
  • Rebecca M. Kysar (Fordham), Critiquing (and Repairing) the New International Tax Regime, 128 Yale L.J. F. 339 (Oct. 25 2018): "The 2017 Tax Act significantly changed the U.S. international tax regime. The legislation, however, failed to solve existing problems and opened the door to new ones. This Essay addresses these shortcomings, and outlines recommendations for a better approach."
  • Susan C. Morse (Texas), International Cooperation and the 2017 Tax Act, 128 Yale L.J. F. 362 (Oct. 25 2018): "Some have criticized the 2017 Tax Act for lowering the corporate tax rate. This Essay argues instead that Congress deserves credit for bringing the U.S. rate in line with other OECD countries, potentially saving the corporate tax by establishing a minimum global rate."

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

The Next Level In The Law School Recruitment Wars: Student Concierges?

Consierge 4Inside Higher Ed, Forget Lazy Rivers. Does Your College Offer a Concierge?:

In the last several years, colleges have been criticized for their climbing walls and lazy rivers, which signal to some too much spending on nonacademic matters.

Wait until those critics hear about the latest trend: concierges for students.

New Mexico State University’s nearly one-year old concierge service -- the Crimson Concierge program -- offers students everything from help booking vacations, to, for an extra fee, doing their laundry.

New Mexico State relies on a popular vendor among colleges and universities, Sodexo, to carry out Crimson Concierge, and the company said it intends to expand to other institutions.

“We are very aware of the fact that a large percentage of students are making their ultimate selection on schools that really can fulfill the ‘college experience,’” said Steve Bettner, assistant vice president of auxiliary services at New Mexico State. “Places that have amenities.”

Forbes in a column over the weekend declared New Mexico State’s program “the only one in the country,” which is not the case. High Point University, a private institution in North Carolina, has since 2007 operated a concierge service [right] even more expansive than New Mexico State’s.

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

Walton Family Record Tax Windfall: $6 Billion Over 16 Years In Tax Savings

Walmart Logo (2018)Walton Family Record Tax Windfall: Received Over $6 Billion Over 16 Years in Tax Savings:

An analysis by Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) has found that the Walton family, the majority owners of Walmart, Inc., have netted an estimated $1.1 million every day for the past 16 years, totaling over $6.5 billion, in dividend income tax savings just on their Walmart share holdings. This billion-dollar savings is a result of a series of “tax reforms” passed by Congress during the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations. The level of tax savings reflects not only a broken tax system that has been exploited by the Walton family, but shows the indifference the largest Walmart shareholders have to the economic plight facing tens of thousands of workers who depend on taxpayer-funded government assistance and programs. 

The MCAW analysis shows that the 16-year time period studied began with the implementation of the George W. Bush “Jobs Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003,” which, MCAW estimates along with President Obama’s two-year extension, resulted in the Walton family paying an average dividend income tax rate of approximately 18.3% from 2003 to 2018 just on their Walmart share holdings. This rate has resulted in an estimated tax break of more than $6.5 billion to date, or $1.1 million per day over the last 16 years. Prior to this time period, at the end of the Clinton Administration, the dividend income tax rate for the Walton family and others was 39.6%, the highest ordinary income tax rate at that time.

Walmart 1

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October 30, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

How Dan Markel's Murder Led Todd Henderson To Write His First Novel, Mental State

Mental StateM. Todd Henderson (Chicago), Mental State (2018):

When conservative law professor Alex Johnson is found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at his house in Chicago, everyone thinks it is suicide. Everyone except his brother, Royce, an FBI agent.

Without jurisdiction or leads, Agent Johnson leaves his cases and family to find out who killed his brother. There are many suspects: the ex-wife, an ambitious doctor with expensive tastes and reasons to hate her ex; academic rivals on a faculty divided along political lines; an African-American student who failed the professor’s course.

As Agent Johnson peels back layers of mystery in his rogue investigation, the brother he never really knew emerges. Clues lead from the ivy-covered elite university and the halls of power in Washington to the gritty streets of Chicago and Lahore, Pakistan. Ultimately, Agent Johnson must face the question of how far he is willing to go to catch his brother’s killer.

Mental State is about two brothers learning about each other in death, and about the things people will do when convinced they are in the right. 

Los Angeles Review of Books, DC State of Mind:

ANTHONY FRANZE: To call your novel timely is an understatement: a Supreme Court nominee navigating the confirmation process, child sex abuse, and shades of the real-life upcoming trial of murdered law professor Dan Markel. What inspired your story?

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October 30, 2018 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 29, 2018

Decanal Gloating

Following up on my previous post, Can A Bostonian Dean An L.A. Law School During The Red Sox-Dodgers World Series?:  I cashed in my World Series bet with the faculty today by serving Clam Chowder (rather than Dodger Dogs) at today's workshop by Orin Kerr (USC) on the Digital Fourth Amendment:

Workshop 1

The best part was that Orin gave the workshop in front of the New Yorker cartoon I shared with the faculty:

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

Brooks Presents The Curious Case Of Student Debt Today At Loyola-L.A.

Brooks (John)John Brooks (Georgetown) presents The Curious Case of Student Debt at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Ellen Aprill and Katie Pratt: 

Student loans have become an issue of major political, economic, legal, and personal importance. Outstanding loans now exceed $1.5 trillion per year, and grow at a rate of $100 billion a year, exceeding credit card debt and auto loans. But student loans differ from the other kinds of debt in profound ways. The federal government make 90% of all loans, and all borrowers can opt in to programs where they can pay only as a percentage of their income and have the possibility of future loan forgiveness. These and other features of student loans reveal that student loans have evolved over time to become something much more akin to a tax-funded grant program, merely masquerading as debt.

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October 29, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Glogower Presents A Constitutional Wealth Tax Today At UC-Irvine

Glogower (2016)Ari Glogower (Ohio State) A Constitutional Wealth Tax at UC-Irvine today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Josh Blank, Vic Fleischer, and Omri Marian:

A wealth tax could address rising inequality and more accurately tailor the tax system to taxpayers’ economic differences. These reasons to tax wealth may not matter, however, if a wealth tax is unconstitutional. This Article considers the possibilities for the design of a constitutional wealth tax. In particular, this Article argues that, if the Supreme Court were to find a traditional tax on wealth is foreclosed under the Constitution, Congress could instead tax wealth indirectly, by adjusting a taxpayer’s income tax liability on account of her wealth. This Article describes three methods for making this adjustment (collectively, “Wealth Integration” methods): A taxpayer’s wealth could affect her base of taxable income (the “Base Method”), the applicable rate schedule (the “Rate Method”) or the availability of credits against tax (the “Credit Method”).

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October 29, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Leiter: Should Scholars Avoid Citing The Work Of Awful People?

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  Should Scholars Avoid Citing the Work of Awful People?, by Brian Leiter (Chicago):

Across academe, many scholars have been suggesting that we should not cite the scholarship of bad people.

A recent essay [Should We Still Cite the Scholarship of Serial Harassers and Sexists?] in The Chronicle by Nikki Usher, an associate professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, posed the question starkly: "Do we still keep citing the scholarship of serial harassers and sexists? Within their institutions, they may finally get the fate due to them (or not). But their citational legacy will live on, sometimes even in the form of the pro-forma citations that reviewers expect to see in a manuscript, and ask for if they don’t." ...

What is a scholar to do?

I propose a simple answer: Insofar as you aim to contribute to scholarship in your discipline, cite work that is relevant regardless of the author’s misdeeds. Otherwise you are not doing scholarship but something else. Let me explain. ...

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

How The Great American Tax Revolt Crossed The Atlantic

Isaac William Martin (UC-San Diego), How the Great American Tax Revolt Crossed the Atlantic, Modern American History 1 (Cambridge University Press 2018):

That a Tea Party helped bring down Margaret Thatcher's government should remind us that the transatlantic neoliberal project was never very coherent. Policy proposals sometimes traversed the Atlantic, but they did not come neatly wrapped in coherent ideological packages, nor were they vetted by learned experts. They circulated as examples—taken up selectively by advocacy groups and evaluated not for their ideological coherence or consistency, but instead for their promise as tactical weapons in conflicts that sometimes had little to do with what was happening on the other side of the ocean.

October 29, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lesson From The Tax Court: When Payments To A Pastor Are Not Gifts

Tax Court (2017)I don’t think Jesus ever charged for his services.  Jesus instead lived off of gifts.  Sure, some gifts got him in trouble, such as when Mary gave him expensive perfume and his followers complained he should have sold it to raise money for the poor. See John 12:1-8 (dramatized in this clip from Jesus Christ, Superstar).  But mostly Jesus worked off a sandal-strap budget.  He trusted in the generosity of those he encountered on the way. 

Modern preachers usually take a salary for their services.  Churches systematically solicit money from their congregation, both during each worship service and by encouraging yearly pledges.  And the main component of at least most Protestant church budgets (at least based on my experience) is personnel costs, the largest one being compensation for the pastor or minister. 

But modern preachers can receive gifts as well.  And while salary is taxable, gifts are not, thanks to §102.  The question becomes when are payments salary and when are they gifts?  In the recent case of Wayne R. Felton and Deondra J. Felton v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2018-168 (Oct. 10, 2018), Judge Holmes teaches a great lesson how to answer that question. 

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October 29, 2018 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink | Comments (3)

July 2018 South Carolina Bar Exam Results

Johnson Posts Tax Papers On SSRN

Calvin H. Johnson (Texas), Wasting $2.5 Trillion on No-Growth Capital, 158 Tax Notes 909 (Feb. 12 2018):  "The 2017 tax bill spent $2.4 trillion (10 year measure) to induce a commodity that is in glut. Returns from risk free capital are below inflation rates. The only positive return from the $2.4 trillion spent requires finding a positive return from the investment of capital, but the value of capital is negative. The extra $2.4 trillion of debt risks collapse of the auction for U.S. debt."

Calvin H. Johnson (Texas), Choice of Entity by Reason of Tax Rates, 158 Tax Notes 1641 (Mar. 19, 2018):  "Johnson argues that looking at rates alone, owners subject to the new 29.6 percent rates for qualified business income should organize as passthroughs unless they will accumulate business earnings for at least 23 years, and that the C corporation form should be chosen for post-death sales and entities subject to 37 percent tax rates. He warns that the recent instability of entity choice will likely continue."

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October 29, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, October 28, 2018

7th Circuit Hears Oral Argument In Appeal Of District Court Ruling That § 107 Housing Allowance For 'Ministers Of The Gospel' Violates The Establishment Clause

Wall Street Journal, Religious Groups, Atheists Clash Over Tax-Free Housing for Clergy:

A lawyer for religious groups on Wednesday defended in federal court a 64-year-old tax break that grants priests, rabbis and imams tax-free housing allowances—costing the Treasury of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

A district judge in Wisconsin last year sided with a group that backs the separation of church and state, ruling that the law discriminates against other taxpayers and violates the Constitution “because a reasonable observer would view the statute as an endorsement of religion.”

On Wednesday, the two sides argued the case before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

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October 28, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Michigan State Law School To Fully Integrate With University

Michigan State Logo (2013)Lansing State Journal, MSU College of Law, Previously Private and Independent, to Become a Part of the University:

Despite its name, the Michigan State University College of Law is a private school that's affiliated with the university but not part of it.

That's about to change.

MSU's Board of Trustees voted Friday to fully integrate the College of Law into the university.

“Our goal is to have a law school that can kind of be special and can pick up on land-grant traditions and really think about excellence in certain specific areas," interim President John Engler said Friday morning.

Autonomous vehicles, food and healthcare law were three examples he gave as areas where MSU's law school could focus. He also pointed to the proximity of the school to the capital, saying more needs to be done to tighten relationships with all three branches of government.

Trustee Dianne Byrum said that, like law schools nationally, the MSU College of Law has struggled financially in recent years.

"It’s an asset," Byrum said. "We wanted to make sure that the faculty at the law school knew that they would have stability in employment," adding that while they made the announcement Friday, it will likely take a year and a half to finalize the process. ...

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October 28, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Preacher Taxed On Gifts From Congregation

Tax Court (2017)Forbes: Preacher Taxed On Regular Gifts From Congregation Members, by Peter J. Reilly:

Archbishop Wayne Felton and Deondra Felton are the Senior Pastor and Overseer of Women Affairs, respectively, of The Holy Christian Church of St. Paul Minnesota (HCC). As a bishop, Felton serves as Apostolic Overseer of the Communion of Holy Christian Churches which consists of over 150 churches and ministries in the United States, Riwanda, Kenya and Liberia.The couple got behind in their income tax filing and caught up with joint returns for 2008 and 2009.

They were able to work out most of the issues on the returns with IRS, but there was one issue left for the Tax Court.  Was the cash and checks that congregants put in blue envelopes on Sundays taxable income or could it be excluded as gifts? Judge Mark Holmes, who is noted for his distinctive writing style,  concluded that the blue envelope money is taxable income in his opinion last week. It amounted to $258,001 in 2008 and $234,826 and 2009. ...

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October 28, 2018 in New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

SSRN Logo (2018)There is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new #1 paper and a new paper debuting on the list at #5:

  1. [223 Downloads]  The Death of the Income Tax (or, the Rise of America's Universal Wage Tax), by Edward McCaffery (USC)
  2. [210 Downloads]  The International Provisions of the TCJA: Six Results after Six Months, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)
  3. [208 Downloads]  Taxing the Robots, by Orly Mazur (SMU)
  4. [149 Downloads]  Tax Competition and the Ethics of Burden Sharing, by Ivan Ozai (McGill)
  5. [134 Downloads]  Rolling Real Estate Gain into a Qualified Opportunity Fund: Comparison with § 1031, by Brad Borden (Brooklyn) & Alan Lederman (Akerman, Miami)

October 28, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

'Your Law School Really Sucks At Hiring, And That's Why Your Faculty Lacks Diversity'

LawProfBlawg, Your Law School’s Predominantly White Male Faculty Profile Pics:

Your law school really sucks at hiring, and that's why your faculty lacks diversity.

It’s that season when eager entry-level prospective law professors converge on Washington, D.C., to meet with faculty hiring committees who are also converging on D.C.  ...

The goal?  Hire a candidate who looks and acts exactly like them.

Just kidding.  But that is often what happens.  Because law professors tend to suck at hiring. Don’t get me wrong, you deserved to be hired.  But most of us who don’t fit a particular pattern or mold often feel like we were some sort of accident or fluke.  The reason is that law schools lack diversity. ...

I’ve looked at over 50 law school websites this weekend.  And, at least among the tenured and tenure-track faculty, we’re all very much white and male.  Some schools appear to have NO minority tenure or tenure-track faculty members.  The bulk of us come from the same few schools.  That doesn’t sound like a diverse faculty so much as it sounds like a club.

The problem is partly because law schools have some common misperceptions about diversity.  What I say here applies to any diversity, whether it be race, gender, socioeconomic status, or political viewpoint.  Diversity enhances the intellectual life of a school.  It is necessary for student success and intellectual achievement.  And, the shortcuts law faculty members tend to take in hiring assure diversity isn’t there.

Here’s a checklist.  How many apply to your school?

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October 27, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Rolling Real Estate Gain Into A Qualified Opportunity Fund: Comparison With § 1031

Bradley T. Borden (Brooklyn) & Alan S. Lederman (Akerman, Miami), Rolling Real Estate Gain into a Qualified Opportunity Fund: Comparison with § 1031, 34 Tax Mgmt. Real Est. J. 155 (Sept. 5, 2018):

As part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress enacted Section 1400Z-2, which allows property owners to reinvest gain from the disposition of property in qualified opportunity funds (QOFs) tax free. This article illustrates how this new provision is different from the most popular commercial real estate disposition nonrecognition provision—Section 1031.

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October 27, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stanford Study: To Find The Best School Fit, Ignore Rankings

US News (no)Inside Higher Ed, To Find the Best Fit, Ignore the Rankings:

As they do every fall, high school students and their parents are deciding on college lists -- figuring out where to apply and which colleges are on top of their wish lists. As is also the case every fall, U.S. News & World Report and others have released their rankings, suggesting which are the “best” colleges -- among all and in certain categories.

Many students gravitate (regardless of what the rankings say) to public institutions close to home. But many others rely on rankings to identify potential colleges -- or to convince parents that a particular institution is worth whatever it charges. And many colleges are banking on that, boasting about their scores in the latest rankings.

Educators have for years questioned the validity of the rankings, pointing out flaws with various parts of the methodologies of U.S. News and others.

A new study from researchers at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education examines all of the evidence about rankings and comes to this conclusion: the best way to find a college that is a “good fit” is to ignore the rankings [A “Fit” Over Rankings: Why College Engagement Matters More Than Selectivity]

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October 27, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 26, 2018

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Kleiman Reviews Schön's Taxation And Democracy

This week, Ariel Jurow Kleiman (San Diego) reviews a new work by Wolfgang Schön (Max Planck), Taxation and Democracy, 72 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2019).

StevensonWolfgang Schön’s latest article raises a question both timely and eternal—what principles justify taxation of a minority group under majority rule?  Schön starts from the premise that taxation is rendered legitimate by the democratic process.  However, although democracy may transform taxes into voluntary transfers at the aggregate level, it cannot do so at the individual level.  Thus, nations need constitutional protections in order to safeguard the rights of the individual or the minority against the collective majority.  For modern nation states, the question of appropriate protection is particularly germane to the taxation of resident aliens, a problem that Schön adeptly tackles.    

Schön distills taxpayer protections into a dyadic framework, with safeguards being based on either “consent” or “content.” 

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October 26, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Temple Hosts A Symposium Today On Taxpayer Rights In The United States

TempleThe Temple Law Review hosts a symposium today on Taxpayer Rights in the United States: All the Angles:

Panel #1: The Federal TBOR – What Does it Mean, and What Can it Do?

  • Leslie Book (Villanova) (moderator)
  • Keith Fogg (Harvard)
  • Richard Greenstein (Temple)
  • Kristin Hickman (Minnesota)
  • Leandra Lederman (Indiana)

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

Fordham Hosts Symposium Today On The Future Of The New International Tax Regime

Fordham LogoFordham hosts a symposium today on The Future of the New International Tax Regime:

Keynote, Rosanne Altshuler (Rutgers)

Panel #1:

  • Michael Graetz (Columbia)
  • Rebecca Kysar (Fordham)
  • Susan C. Morse (Texas)
  • Daniel N. Shaviro (NYU)
  • Fadi Shaheen (Rutgers) (moderator)

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

LSE Hosts Book Launch Today For Tsilly Dagan's International Tax Policy

DaganThe London School of Economics and Political Science is hosting a book launch today for Tsilly Dagan (Bar-Ilan University, Israel), International Tax Policy: Between Competition and Cooperation (Cambridge University Press 2018):

Bringing a unique voice to international taxation, this book argues against the conventional support of multilateral co-operation in favour of structured competition as a way to promote both justice and efficiency in international tax policy. Tsilly Dagan analyzes international taxation as a decentralized market, where governments have increasingly become strategic actors. While many of the challenges of the current international tax regime derive from this decentralized competitive structure, Dagan argues that curtailing competition through centralization is not necessarily the answer.

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October 26, 2018 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mehrotra: The Myth of the 'Overtaxed' American And The VAT That Never Was

Ajay K. Mehrotra (American Bar Foundation; Northwestern), The Myth of the “Overtaxed” American and the VAT That Never Was, Modern American History 1 (Cambridge University Press 2018):

Taxation is the lifeblood of a modern liberal democracy. It is the one policy area without which nearly all of the other functions and aspects of the state would not be possible. Yet in the face of this reality, many Americans continue to believe that they can receive the goods and services provided by a modern regulatory, administrative, social-welfare state with low taxes and limited government. Many politicians and everyday Americans have even perpetuated the myth that they are “overtaxed” compared to the citizens of other advanced, industrialized nations.

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October 26, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

What Factors Hold Back The Careers Of Women And Faculty Of Color? Columbia U. Went Looking For Answers

Chronicle of Higher Education, What Factors Hold Back the Careers of Women and Faculty of Color? Columbia U. Went Looking for Answers:

Last year Columbia University announced that it would commit $100 million over the next five years to recruiting and supporting the careers of underrepresented minority faculty — on top of the $85 million it had spent since 2005. Despite Columbia’s hefty financial commitment, the pace of faculty diversity on the Ivy League campus has been stubbornly slow. The university has also studied the progress of women through the academic pipeline.

A new report, released by Columbia on Thursday, provides a detailed picture of the factors that have played a role in making the recruitment and retention of minority and female faculty such a challenge for the institution.

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

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Gans: Publicity Rights And The Estate Tax

Mitchell M. Gans (Hofstra), Publicity Rights and the Estate Tax, 42 Colum. J.L. & Arts ___ (2018):

The estate tax treatment of publicity rights has played a role in the debate about the state law question whether such rights should be transferable at death. Some point to the estate tax as a reason for making publicity rights non-transferable. For if they are transferable, estate-tax inclusion could result. And, the argument goes, the estate or the beneficiaries could well be coerced into commercializing the rights in order to raise the money to pay the tax. Making them non-transferable would eliminate this possibility.

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

2018 International Tax Competitiveness Index

ITCA2018 International Tax Competitiveness Index:

The International Tax Competitiveness Index ( ITCI ) seeks to measure the extent to which a country’s tax system adheres to two important aspects of tax policy: competitiveness and neutrality. A competitive tax code is one that keeps marginal tax rates low. In today’s globalized world, capital is highly mobile. Businesses can choose to invest in any number of countries throughout the world to find the highest rate of return. This means that businesses will look for countries with lower tax rates on investment to maximize their after-tax rate of return. If a country’s tax rate is too high, it will drive investment elsewhere, leading to slower economic growth. In addition, high marginal tax rates can lead to tax avoidance. ...

To measure whether a country’s tax system is neutral and competitive, the ITCI looks at more than 40 tax policy variables. These variables measure not only the level of taxes, but also how taxes are structured. The Index looks at a country’s corporate taxes, individual income taxes, consumption taxes, property taxes, and the treatment of profits earned overseas. The ITCI gives a comprehensive overview of how developed countries’ tax codes compare, explains why certain tax codes stand out as good or bad models for reform, and provides important insight into how to think about tax policy.

Table 1: 2018 International Tax Competitiveness Index Rankings
Country Overall Rank Overall Score Corporate Tax Rank Individual Taxes Rank Consumption Taxes Rank Property Taxes Rank International Tax Rules Rank
Estonia 1 100.0 1 1 9 1 6
Latvia 2 86.0 2 2 27 6 5
New Zealand 3 83.0 18 3 6 3 15
Luxembourg 4 80.5 21 17 2 18 1
Netherlands 5 77.5 19 8 12 10 3
Switzerland 6 77.0 6 9 1 34 8
Sweden 7 75.0 7 20 16 7 7
Australia 8 72.2 27 19 7 4 17
Czech Republic 9 69.6 8 4 33 13 9
Austria 10 69.6 15 21 10 9 13
Slovak Republic 11 69.4 10 6 32 2 27
Turkey 12 68.8 17 5 24 17 10
Hungary 13 68.4 3 15 34 26 2
Finland 14 67.7 5 27 14 11 18
Norway 15 66.2 13 11 18 24 14
Germany 16 65.3 24 28 11 14 11
Korea 17 64.4 28 10 5 25 31
Canada 18 64.0 22 23 8 20 22
Belgium 19 63.8 23 7 25 23 12
Ireland 20 63.7 4 33 23 12 21
Denmark 21 63.7 14 30 17 8 23
Slovenia 22 63.6 12 12 28 21 16
United Kingdom 23 63.1 16 24 22 30 4
United States 24 61.5 20 26 4 28 32
Iceland 25 60.2 11 31 19 22 20
Japan 26 59.5 35 25 3 29 25
Spain 27 57.4 26 18 15 31 19
Mexico 28 57.2 31 13 26 5 34
Greece 29 51.9 25 14 30 27 29
Israel 30 51.7 29 35 13 15 33
Chile 31 48.3 30 22 29 16 35
Portugal 32 48.2 33 29 31 19 28
Poland 33 47.7 9 16 35 32 30
Italy 34 46.9 32 32 20 33 26
France 35 41.4 34 34 21 35 24

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October 25, 2018 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Continuing Fallout From Sexual Misconduct By University Of Illinois Law Professor

Illinois LogoFollowing up on yesterday's post, University Of Illinois Law School Dean, Faculty Speak Out Against Colleague's Sexual Misconduct: Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette, UI Law School Dean: 'I'm Deeply Sorry':

Challenged by a student leader, the dean of the University of Illinois College of Law apologized to law students Wednesday for the sexual-harassment case involving Professor Jay Kesan and its aftermath.

At a packed town hall meeting at the UI Law Building's library, Dean Vikram Amar and other administrators answered questions for two hours about the school's handling of the case against Kesan, who was sanctioned last year following a two-year sexual-harassment investigation.

Students complained that they didn't learn about the case until an audience member talked about it publicly at a law-school forum on sexual harassment last week, and that administrators didn't do enough to protect them during or after the investigation because they allowed Kesan to continue teaching and advising students.

About halfway through, Illinois Student Bar Association President Ashley Kennedy told Amar that she sensed students felt "disenchanted and downtrodden" after hearing about the procedural hurdles involved in taking more-serious actions against Kesan, a tenured law professor. The student group has demanded Kesan's resignation, and Kennedy later presented Amar with a letter signed by more than 220 law students, faculty, staff and alumni.

"We feel that students are being put to the side," Kennedy told Amar. "I think we want an apology for not doing enough to protect us."

Amar responded, "On behalf of the university, I apologize that any creepy behavior ever happens."

"Whether I did anything wrong or not, I feel an obligation on behalf of the university and the law school, so I'm deeply sorry," Amar said.

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

Trump’s New Pledge To Cut Taxes May Follow A Familiar Path

New York Times, Trump’s New Pledge to Cut Taxes May Follow a Familiar Path:

Ten months before President Trump began making promises of a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class, he signed a sweeping bill that included a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class.

That cut was included in a $1.5 trillion package that immediately became Mr. Trump’s signature piece of legislation on economic policy. But middle-class Americans say they have not felt much of an effect, in part because three-quarters of the tax cuts went to corporations and high-income earners.

As a result, middle-class Americans have not rallied around the Trump tax cuts in the way the president and congressional Republicans had hoped. So Mr. Trump found another way to get the tax cuts back in the news before the midterm elections in November by pledging to deliver another round very soon.

Mr. Trump began talking about this next tax cut last weekend, telling supporters that he was preparing another middle-class cut, on top of the ones already in place, and that Congress would pass it imminently. Congress will do no such thing; it is not in session until after the elections, and no one on Capitol Hill expects a tax cut of any kind to pass in the lame-duck session at the end of the year.

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October 25, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Todd: Exogeneity Vs. Endogeneity In Section 170’s Quid Pro Quo Test

Timothy M. Todd (Liberty), Exogeneity vs. Endogeneity in Section 170’s Quid Pro Quo Test, 161 Tax Notes 65 (Oct. 1, 2018):

This article advances an exogenous-endogenous distinction for purposes of determining and calculating quid pro quos under section 170. This test holds that exogenous benefits—benefits that arise independently of, or arise outside of, the taxing authority — are properly considered quid pro quos (and should reduce the amount deductible); whereas, endogenous benefits — benefits that arise from or within the specific federal or state taxing authority — are not quid pro quos and should not be considered in determining the amount deductible under section 170.

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

AccessLex Institute Legal Education Data Deck

AL Cover

AccessLex Institute, Legal Education Data Deck:

AccessLex Institute offers this Legal Education Data Deck for the use of the legal education community, policymakers, and others interested in viewing a snapshot of certain data and trends organized around the three driving principles of AccessLex Institute’s research agenda: access, affordability and value.

AL1

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

Livingston: Fascism, The 'Rule of Law' And The Trump Era

Michael A. Livingston (Rutgers), The Other F-Word: Fascism, The “Rule of Law,” and the Trump Era:

This essay considers books that have suggested parallels between 1930s-style fascism and present day politics, especially that of the Trump Administration. The essay concludes that these parallels are generally unconvincing and that, however well-intentioned, they distract attention from needed political reforms.

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

Tax Nominee For $10,000 Student Legal Writing Award

Finalists for the 2018 Brown Award for Excellence in Legal Writing:

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October 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Glogower Presents A Constitutional Wealth Tax Today At Pennsylvania

Glogower (2016)Ari Glogower (Ohio State) A Constitutional Wealth Tax at Pennsylvania today as part of its Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series hosted by Michael Knoll, Chris Sanchirico, and Reed Shuldiner:

A wealth tax could address rising inequality and more accurately tailor the tax system to taxpayers’ economic differences. These reasons to tax wealth may not matter, however, if a wealth tax is unconstitutional. This Article considers the possibilities for the design of a constitutional wealth tax. In particular, this Article argues that, if the Supreme Court were to find a traditional tax on wealth is foreclosed under the Constitution, Congress could instead tax wealth indirectly, by adjusting a taxpayer’s income tax liability on account of her wealth. This Article describes three methods for making this adjustment (collectively, “Wealth Integration” methods): A taxpayer’s wealth could affect her base of taxable income (the “Base Method”), the applicable rate schedule (the “Rate Method”) or the availability of credits against tax (the “Credit Method”).

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