TaxProf Blog

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

Monday, December 31, 2018

WSJ: The Bitcoin Tax Loss Bonanza

Wall Street Journal, Make The Most of Your Failed Bitcoin Gamble: Sell Now:

BitcoinAlmost the only good thing about investing in cryptocurrencies in 2018 was the tax break.

These assets have been crushed this year. Bitcoin’s price, for example, has fallen from about $15,000 to about $4,000.

The U.S. tax code provides a measure of relief by allowing investors to use such losses to offset taxes on winners, either now or in the future.

Digital currencies have a wrinkle that makes them even better in this situation. If you’re still a bitcoin believer, you can use a quirk in the rules to sell and reinvest right away without running afoul of the Internal Revenue Service. By contrast, many stock and fund investors have to wait 30 days to repurchase losers.

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December 31, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: U.S. Grip On Higher Education Market Is Slipping; University Of Illinois Pays $424,000 For $61 Million Lloyd’s Of London Policy To Hedge Against Decline In Chinese Students

Wall Street Journal,  U.S. Grip on the Market for Higher Education Is Slipping:

The American higher education system, the largest in the world and a major source of revenue for towns and cities across the U.S., is still dominant as a global magnet for top talent, but is losing market share. The U.S. has 24% of the global market, far ahead of the U.K. with 11%.

Last year, the U.S. saw a 6.6% decline in new international students studying in the country, to 271,738, after a 3.3% decline the year before. 

WSJ 2

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

Reilly, Shaviro Debate The New § 199A Pass-Through Rules

Forbes:  Law Professor Argues New Pass-Through Rules (199A) Are Horrible, by Peter J. Reilly:

When it comes to new Code Section 199A (often referred to as the pass-through rules) and Professor Daniel Shaviro of NYU, don't get him started.  He had his piece Evaluating The New US Pass-through Rules published in a UK journal — The British Tax Journal — because he thought it was not representative of how temperate he normally is.  Here is how it starts (You have been warned):

The pass-through rules that the US Congress enacted in 2017—permitting the owners of unincorporated businesses in favoured industries to escape tax on 20 per cent of their income—achieved a rare and unenviable trifecta, by making the tax system less efficient, less fair, and more complicated . It lacked any coherent (or even clearly articulated) underlying principle, was shoddily executed, and ought to be promptly repealed. Given the broader surrounding circumstances, the mere fact of its enactment sends out a disturbing message about disregard among high-ranking US policymakers for basic principles of competence, transparency, and fair governance.

I'm kind of a cynical bastard, but it is nothing compared to Professor Shaviro. He starts his article by comparing the passage of 199A to gilded age corruption. He is particularly hard of Senator Bob Corker of Tenessee who put aside his anti-deficit stand when the pass-through rules were modified so that owners of tangible property with no or negligible wage expense would also qualify for the deduction. That provision (199A(b)(2)(B)(ii)) became known as the Corker kickback.

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December 31, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Concurring Opinions Blog Pulls The Plug Today After 13 Years

Concurring Opinions

Law.com, Pioneering Law Blog Is Calling It Quits. Here's Why:

Pour one out for Concurring Opinions, the group law professor blog [Dan Solove (George Washington), Danielle Citron (Maryland), Larry Cunningham (George Washington), Deven Desai (Georgia Tech), Dave Hoffman (Pennsylvania), Gerard Magliocca (Indiana-Indianapolis), Frank Pasquale (Maryland), Kaimipono Wenger (Thomas Jefferson)] that has been kicking around since 2006.

The blog will shutter Dec. 31, though the authors hope to preserve the archives. Concurring Opinions was among the first group law professors blog to emerge in the 2000s, when the new medium offered academics a much quicker way to disseminate their ideas than traditional law review publications. But blog participation among the core group of seven authors waned over time.

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

Sunday, December 30, 2018

July 2018 California Bar Exam Results

California State BarThe California State Bar has released school-by-school data on the July 2018 California Bar Exam. The July 2018 pass rate for first-time test-takers from California ABA-approved law schools was 64%, down six percentage points from last year. The pass rate fell at 20 of the 21 California ABA-approved law schools; only Pepperdine increased its pass rate (to 66%). Here are the July 2018 results for the 21 California ABA-approved law schools, along with each school's change from the July 2017 results:

Bar Pass

Rank (Rate)

 

School

Rate Change From 2017

1 (91%)

Stanford

-5%

2 (86%)

UC-Berkeley

-3%

3 (83%)

UCLA

-5%

4 (80%)

USC

-8%

5 (75%)

UC-Davis

-4%

6 (72%)

Loyola-L.A.

-1%

7 (71%)

San Diego

-7%

8 (69%)

UC-Irvine

-14%

9 (66%)

Pepperdine

+1%

64%

Statewide Ave. (CA ABA-Approved)

10 (60.3%)

Chapman

-4%

11 (59.6%)

UC-Hastings

-1%

12 (58%)

Santa Clara

-21%

13 (53%)

Southwestern

-4%

14 (52%)

Cal-Western

-13%

15 (51%)

Western State

-5%

16 (50%)

McGeorge

-12%

17 (34.0%)

La Verne

-7%

18 (33.9%)

Golden Gate

-17%

19 (33%)

San Francisco

-21%

20 (26%)

Whittier

-12%

21 (25%)

Thomas Jefferson

-5%

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December 30, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Study: Students' Entering Credentials And Law School Performance Account For Only 20%-50% Of Decline In California Bar Exam Pass Rates

California Bar ExamThe Recorder, California's Bar Exam: How Schools Fared and What Questions a New Analysis Didn't Answer:

A state bar-commissioned study concludes that California law school students’ undergraduate credentials and law school performance accounted for up to 50 percent of the decline in bar exam scores and passing rates between 2013 and 2017 [Performance Changes on the California Bar Examination: Part 2 (Dec. 20, 2018) (113 pages)].

But much of the slump in pass rates on the July tests during that four-year period cannot be accounted for even after culling data from 11 participating American Bar Association-approved law schools, according to the report, dated Dec. 20 and conducted by Research Solutions Group.

The 113-page report is unlikely to offer much guidance for law school deans, bar officials, students and lawmakers seeking answers for the decade-long decline in California bar exam pass rates, which plummeted to 40.7 percent—a 67-year low—for the July 2018 sitting. ...

The Research Solutions Group report found that students’ final law school grade-point averages had the strongest predictive relationship to their success on the bar exam, followed by their first-year law school GPAs, their Law School Admission Test scores and their undergraduate GPA. Mean LSAT scores of students taking the bar exam edged down from 159.4 in 2013 to 157.1 in 2017.

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December 30, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

NY Times: The Uncommon Power Of Grace

New York Times op-ed:  The Uncommon Power of Grace, by Peter Wehner (Ethics and Public Policy Center):

In his book What’s So Amazing About Grace? Philip Yancey describes a conference on comparative religions where experts from around the world debated which belief, if any, was unique to the Christian faith. C.S. Lewis happened to enter the room during the discussion. When he was told the topic was Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions, Lewis responded: “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”

Lewis was right. No other religion places grace at its theological center. It was a revolutionary idea; as Mr. Yancey puts it, grace “seems to go against every instinct of humanity.” We are naturally drawn to covenants and karma, to cause and effect, to earning what we receive.

Grace is different. It is the unmerited favor of God, unconditional love given to the undeserving. It’s a difficult concept to understand because it isn’t entirely rational. “Grace defies reason and logic,” as Bono, the lead singer of U2, put it. “Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions.”

There’s a radical equality at the core of grace. None of us are deserving of God’s grace, so it’s not dependent on social status, wealth or intelligence. There is equality between kings and peasants, the prominent and the unheralded, rule followers and rule breakers. ...

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

The Top Five New Tax Papers

SSRN Logo (2018)This 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 within the Top 5:

  1. [311 Downloads]   Profit Shifting Before and After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, by Kimberly Clausing (Reed)
  2. [293 Downloads]  The Illegality of Digital Services Taxes Under EU Law: Size Matters, by Ruth Mason (Virginia) & Leopoldo Parada (Turin)
  3. [281 Downloads]  How Data Should (Not) Be Taxed, by Johannes Becker (University of Muenster), Joachim Englisch (University of Muenster) & Deborah Schanz (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
  4. [218 Downloads]  Beyond Notice-and-Comment: The Making of the § 199A Regulations, by Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College) & Leigh Osofsky (North Carolina)
  5. [195 Downloads]  The Digital Services Tax: A Conceptual Defense, by Wei Cui (British Columbia)

December 30, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 29, 2018

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Lederman: Tax Evasion And The Fraud Diamond

LedermanLeandra Lederman (Indiana), Tax Evasion and the Fraud Diamond:

There is an extensive set of literatures on tax compliance and evasion, often discussing the traditional economic model (the deterrence model) and/or behavioral theories such as social norms or tax morale. (For recent examples summarizing the theories, see this article by Kathleen Delaney Thomas [The Psychic Cost of Tax Evasion, 56 B.C. L. Rev. 617 (2015)], this one by Adam Thimmesch [Testing the Models of Tax Compliance: The Use-Tax Experiment, 2015 Utah L. Rev. 1083], or this one by yours truly [Does Enforcement Reduce Voluntary Tax Compliance?, 2018 BYU L. Rev. ___].) There is also a separate accounting literature on fraud.

A key concept in this accounting literature is the “Fraud Triangle.” Yet despite the important role this theory plays within the accounting literature, the Fraud Triangle does not seem to have permeated the tax compliance literature, particularly the relevant legal literature. ...

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December 29, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Teaching The Students We Have, Not The Students We Wish We Had

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  Teaching the Students We Have, Not the Students We Wish We Had, by Sara Goldrick-Rab (Temple University) & Jesse Stommel (University of Mary Washington):

Today’s college students are radically different from the students occupying college classrooms even a decade ago. The expansion of education that propelled widespread positive change through American communities in the 20th century has reached beyond high school, and more people than ever before understand the importance of postsecondary education in all its forms.

For broader participation to lead to positive outcomes — for example, the completion of degrees without huge debt burdens — students must have good experiences in the classroom. This is especially important yet incredibly difficult as the new economics of college are compromising the time, energy, and money that students and many of their professors have to spend on quality learning.

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December 29, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

D.C. Circuit Won't Force The IRS To Release Trump's Tax Returns

Trump Tax ReturnsNational Law Journal, DC Circuit Won't Force IRS to Release Trump's Tax Returns:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Tuesday upheld a ruling dismissing an attempt to overcome IRS privacy rules to acquire President Donald Trump’s tax returns through a public-records lawsuit.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center attempted to use a Freedom of Information Act request to get the president’s tax returns, which he has withheld citing a pending Internal Revenue Service audit. Legal experts contend nothing prohibits the president from releasing his tax returns.

The panel on Tuesday said all government records are presumed public under FOIA unless specifically exempted. The panel added the Internal Revenue Code specifically exempts individual taxpayers’ tax returns. That code was passed after President Richard Nixon attempted to use the IRS to harass political opponents.

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December 29, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, December 28, 2018

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Holderness Reviews Azam & Mazur's Cloudy With A Chance Of Taxation

This week, Hayes Holderness (Richmond) reviews Rifat Azam (Radzyner) & Orly Mazur (SMU), Cloudy with a Chance of Taxation, 21 Fla. Tax Rev. ___ (2018):

Holderness (2017)The growth of cloud computing is one of the most significant commercial developments facing modern consumption tax regimes. The growth is significant in part for the problem it presents: tax regimes designed for the consumption of goods and services transferred in a physical world struggle to adapt to virtual transactions. Often the analysis of this problem has focused on the what and the where of cloud computing. Tax authorities often have difficulty characterizing cloud computing offerings as either goods or services, and that characterization can drive tax consequences. Additionally, given the virtual nature of cloud computing, it can be difficult to figure out where the consumption takes place (or even where the offering originates from) and thus who has the right to impose tax; how many places have you accessed Spotify from?

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December 28, 2018 in Hayes Holderness, Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

NY Times: A Gutted IRS Makes The Rich Richer

New York Times editorial, A Gutted I.R.S. Makes the Rich Richer:

Let’s take a moment to pity the Internal Revenue Service. Yes, to many Americans, it’s a money-grabbing ogre siphoning hard-earned cash to the faceless federal bureaucracy.

But the nation’s tax collector today is an enfeebled enforcer. Its budget has been bled dry by a Republican Congress in service to wealthy donors and businesses aggressively pursuing tax avoidance, leaving uncollected 18 percent to 20 percent of potential tax revenues annually. 

That’s the conclusion in articles by the journalism site ProPublica, co-published by The Atlantic and The Times.

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December 28, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Diving Into The ABA Enrollment Data

ABA Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Karen Sloan, Diving Into the ABA Enrollment Data:

Last week brought the release of the official, national law school enrollment data from the American Bar Association. ...

The headline was that first-year enrollment went up 3 percent, which is the first significant annual increase since 2010. You can read my story about that here. But there is lots of other interesting data included in the ABA’s release of 509 disclosures. I’ll be wading into some of that in the coming weeks, but I want to point to some interesting early analysis of the numbers from around the web.

First up, the always astute legal education observer Jerry Organ has a look at national transfer data, concluding that the number of law students transferring to other campuses continues to trend down. His analysis on TaxProf Blog shows that a mere 4 percent of students transferred this fall, down from the peak of 5.8 percent in 2013. Certain schools still dominate the transfer market, including Georgetown University Law Center; George Washington University Law School; Arizona state University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law; and New York University School of Law.

Transfers may be down, but the number of non-J.D. students nationwide is soaring. The ABA reported an 8 percent increase in non-J.D. enrollment, which includes people in LL.M. and master’s programs. (About one in seven enrolled students are not in a J.D. program.) Pepperdine law professor Derek Muller parsed the individual school data over at his blog Excess of Democracy to find which campuses have the most non-J.D. students. The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of the Law tops the list, where a whopping 78 percent of students aren’t pursing a J.D. That’s not terribly surprising, however. Not only does Arizona have an LL.M. and master’s program, but it’s also the first ABA-accredited law school to offer a bachelor’s in law for undergradsRegent University School of Law and Liberty University School of Law also had non-J.D. enrollment above the 50-percent mark, Muller found.

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

Thursday, December 27, 2018

World Giving Index 2018: U.S. Is #4 (Out Of 146 Countries)

CAF1

CAF World Giving Index 2018: See which countries are the most generous, as we reveal where 146 countries rank for three giving areas: donating money, volunteering and helping a stranger.

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December 27, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy And How It Can Do Better

Just GivingWall Street Journal: Leslie Lenkowsky (Indiana University), Generosity, With Benefits (reviewing Rob Reich (Stanford), Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better (2018)):

Critics take aim at government policy when it fails, in their view, to sufficiently encourage donations to charity. In “Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better,” Rob Reich, a Stanford political-science professor, argues that a more fundamental question needs to be asked: Why should government policies encourage philanthropy at all?

Throughout history, Mr. Reich says, religious and ethical traditions have provided people from many backgrounds with powerful reasons for giving. If governments are to play a role, Mr. Reich argues, they need a different kind of justification: a political one. They need to be able to identify the ways in which charity achieves public purposes, and for him the greatest public purpose is that of promoting equality. A policy that fails in this regard, he believes, is shaky at best and perhaps unjustifiable.

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December 27, 2018 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Joy Of Giving Lasts Longer Than The Joy Of Getting

Association for Psychological Science, The Joy of Giving Lasts Longer Than the Joy of Getting:

The happiness we feel after a particular event or activity diminishes each time we experience that event, a phenomenon known as hedonic adaptation. But giving to others may be the exception to this rule, according to research forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

In two studies, psychology researchers Ed O’Brien (University of Chicago Booth School of Business) and Samantha Kassirer (Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management) found that participants’ happiness did not decline, or declined much slower, if they repeatedly bestowed gifts on others versus repeatedly receiving those same gifts themselves. ...

In one experiment, university student participants received $5 every day for 5 days; they were required to spend the money on the exact same thing each time. The researchers randomly assigned participants to spend the money either on themselves or on someone else, such as by leaving money in a tip jar at the same café or making an online donation to the same charity every day. The participants reflected on their spending experience and overall happiness at the end of each day.

The data, from a total of 96 participants, showed a clear pattern: Participants started off with similar levels of self-reported happiness and those who spent money on themselves reported a steady decline in happiness over the 5-day period. But happiness did not seem to fade for those who gave their money to someone else. The joy from giving for the fifth time in a row was just as strong as it was at the start.

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

2016 Charitable Deduction Data: Red States Are More Generous Than Blue States

Tax Foundation, Charitable Deductions by State:

As the end of 2018 approaches, many Americans are considering making end-of-year charitable donations. While the new tax law contains many changes that will impact these decisions, we can look at Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data to gauge how much Americans have deducted for charitable giving in the past.

In tax year 2016, just over 37 million taxpayers took an itemized deduction for their charitable giving, deducting a total of $236 billion in charitable contributions for an average of $6,349. Note that this doesn’t represent the total amount of giving in the United States, just the amount that eligible taxpayers deducted on their income tax returns. It’s also worth noting that wealthier Americans disproportionately benefit from the charitable deduction overall, as it is high-income taxpayers who tend to itemize their deductions.

Tax Foundation

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December 27, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

WSJ: One Year Later, Benefits From Corporate Tax Cut Seem Muted

Wall Street Journal, One Year Later, Benefits From Corporate Tax Cut Seem Muted:

Twelve months after Congress cut business tax rates and sped up deductions to set off a capital spending boom, the results are proving modest at best.

A broad measure of business investment surged earlier in the year, but slowed since. It swung in part not because of tax policy, but in line with shifts in energy prices. Moreover, shipments of capital goods have tailed off after rising robustly early in the year and industrial capacity is rising modestly.

WSJ

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December 26, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Who Moves To California? The Wealthier And Better Educated

Los Angeles Times, Who Moves to California? The Wealthier and Better Educated, Mostly:

LA Times</a

Hand-wringing over an exodus of disillusioned Californians may be a Golden State pastime, the subject of political punditry and strung-out social media threads.

But the latest data are far from dire. The U.S. Census Bureau, in its newly released surveys for 2017, shows that California’s net migration remained fairly stable. Since 2010, as the economic recovery took hold and housing prices skyrocketed, departures accelerated — but the number of newcomers rose steadily as well.

The state attracts a steady stream of college graduates, especially from the East Coast, even as many less-educated residents move to neighboring states — and to Texas — in search of a lower cost of living.

Consider that in 2017:

  • More people left California (661,026) than arrived (523,131) from other U.S. states. But for the nation’s most populous state, with 39 million residents, that amounted to a tiny fraction in net departures: just 0.35%.
  • Among the 25-years-and-older set, the state lost a net 86,890 residents without bachelor’s degrees, and just 4,443 with a four-year degree. It gained 11,653 people with graduate degrees.
  • No state boasts more loudly of its attractions than Texas. Indeed, 63,174 people relocated from California to the nation’s second-most populous state, more than to anywhere else in the U.S. But it’s also true that no state sent more people here than the Lone Star State — 40,999.

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December 26, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (10)

Field: Offshoring Tax Ethics — The Panama Papers

Heather M. Field (UC-Hastings), Offshoring Tax Ethics: The Panama Papers, Seeking Refuge From Tax, and Tax Lawyer Referrals, 62 St. Louis U. L.J. 35 (2017):

The fallout from the “Panama Papers” scandal leaves many questions unanswered, including: How did U.S. taxpayers get to the Panamanian law firm of Mossack Fonseca? And what were the ethical responsibilities of the individuals (particularly U.S. lawyers) who connected these U.S. clients with Mossack Fonseca, especially in the cases where the U.S. clients sought offshore assistance in order to avoid or evade U.S. taxes? This symposium essay answers these questions and uses insights gained from an examination of the Panama Papers leak to make recommendations about how to respond ethically to referral requests for assistance with offshore tax avoidance/evasion.

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

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

A Hallelujah Christmas

A Pepperdine Christmas

WSJ: In Hoc Anno Domini

The Wall Street Journal has published this wonderful editorial each Christmas since 1949, In Hoc Anno Domini:

When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.

Everywhere there was civil order, for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.

But everywhere there was something else, too. There was oppression -- for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people. There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. There were executioners to quiet those whom the Emperor proscribed. What was a man for but to serve Caesar?

There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.

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

NY Times: Professor, Was Jesus Really Born To A Virgin?

CraigNew York Times op-ed:  Professor, Was Jesus Really Born to a Virgin?, by Nicholas Kristof:

I question William Lane Craig [author, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics] of Talbot School of Theology and Houston Baptist University about Christianity.

KristofMerry Christmas, Dr. Craig! I must confess that for all my admiration for Jesus, I’m skeptical about some of the narrative we’ve inherited. Are you actually confident that Jesus was born to a virgin?

Craig: Merry Christmas to you, too, Nick! I’m reasonably confident. When I was a non-Christian, I used to struggle with this, too. But then it occurred to me that for a God who could create the entire universe, making a woman pregnant wasn’t that big a deal! Given the existence of a Creator and Designer of the universe (for which we have good evidence), an occasional miracle is child’s play. Historically speaking, the story of Jesus’ virginal conception is independently attested by Matthew and Luke and is utterly unlike anything in pagan mythology or Judaism. So what’s the problem? ...

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December 25, 2018 in Book Club | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, December 24, 2018

'Twas The Night Before Christmas (Legal Edition)

Twas 6

Check out the original and legal versions of the classic poem, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas [click on chart to enlarge]:

Twas_the_night_before_christmas_pag

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December 24, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Temple Reaches $5.5 Million Settlement In U.S. News Rankings Scandal

Temple University (2018)Following up on my previous posts (links below): Poets & Quants, Temple Fox Reaches $5.5 Milion Settlement Over Rankings Scandal:

After a rankings scandal that has severely impacted the reputation of Temple University’s Fox School of Business, the university today (Dec. 21) said it has agreed to pay students of its MBA and other business programs nearly $5.5 million in a settlement of a class action suit. The scandal cost Dean M. Moshe Porat, who led the school for 22 years, his job and forced the school to withdraw from a number of rankings.

Temple said that $4 million has been set aside to settle the claims from online MBA students, while another $1,475,000 will be used to settle the claims of students in its Executive MBA, Global MBA, part-time MBA and master’s degrees in human resources management and digital innovation in marketing. Undergraduate students in the school’s business programs also will receive settlements out of this latter bucket.

The school also agreed to create a $5,000 ethics scholarship for a student with a demonstrated interest in the study of ethics in business who is enrolled in any of the programs that are part of the settlement. ...

Temple released the news near the end of a work week on a Friday at 4:40 p.m. EST right before the Christmas holiday.

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December 24, 2018 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The $387 Billion Solution To Our Rigged Tax System

New York Daily News op-ed:  The $387 Billion Solution: How to Stop the Federal Government From Leaving Insane Amounts of Tax Money, Most of It From Wealthier Americans, on the Table, by Gerald Scorse:

Charges of rigging fill the air in today’s America. Elections, the economy, college admissions, the list seems endless. Whatever the truth in other cases, our tax collection system is undeniably rigged. It’s been so from the beginning, rigged against the vast majority of workers.

In 1943, under pressure to pay for World War II, Congress passed a law requiring employers to withhold taxes and report the incomes of their employees. The same law allows self-reporting by huge numbers of largely high-income taxpayers: landlords, self-employed professionals, small businesses, et al.

Tax compliance figures for the two groups differ starkly. The latest estimate from the Internal Revenue Service shows 99% compliance by wage and salary earners. Self-reporters, by contrast, are evading scores of billions in taxes year after year. ...

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December 24, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

How The Government Shutdown Affects The IRS

IRS Logo 2Journal of Accountancy, Government Shutdown Would Halt Many IRS Operations:

The IRS is affected by the ... shutdown because it is not already funded through September 2019. Temporary funding for the IRS was enacted in the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018, Division D of P.L. 115-56, and extended up to Dec. 22 by P.L. 115-90. Congressional negotiators are currently working on a continuing spending resolution that would fund the federal government through Feb. 8.

In anticipation of a lapse in funding, Treasury in late November issued a fiscal year 2019 “Lapsed Appropriations Contingency Plan” that governs what will happen at the IRS during a government shutdown — but only through Dec. 31. If the government shutdown continues into 2019, a new plan will have to be formulated. (The current contingency plan would also be in effect after April 30, 2019.)

The plan covers only a five-day shutdown. If a shutdown lasts longer than five business days, the IRS human capital officer will reassess ongoing activities and identify necessary adjustments of excepted positions and personnel.

The plan anticipates that preparation for the 2019 filing season will not be affected by the shutdown.

The plan identifies 9,946 IRS employees as “excepted/exempt” employees who would not be furloughed. The rest of the IRS’s 79,868 employees (as of Nov. 10) would be furloughed, meaning they will be put on leave of absence without pay, under 5 C.F.R. Section 752.402.

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December 24, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Richest Law Firms Are Getting Even Richer

Law.com, The Richest Law Firms Are Getting Even Richer:

The most profitable firms in the Am Law 200 are pulling away from the rest of the industry.

That’s the takeaway from an analysis of data gathered by ALM Intelligence going back to the year 2000. A look at the top 25 firms by profit per equity partner (PPEP) in this year’s Am Law 200 ranking reveals a wide and still growing gap in profitability between the upper crust and everybody else.

ALM

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December 23, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Ohio Is The First State To Accept Bitcoin For Tax Payments

OhioWall Street Journal, Pay Taxes With Bitcoin? Ohio Says Sure:

Ohio appears set to become the first state to accept bitcoin for tax bills, a show of support for a technology that has garnered lots of hype but failed to gain traction as a form of payment.

Beginning this week, Ohio businesses will be able to go to the website OhioCrypto.com and register to pay everything from cigarette sales taxes to employee withholding taxes with bitcoin. Eventually, the initiative will expand to individual filers.

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December 23, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Symposium: Christian Legal Thought

SJSymposium, Christian Legal Thought, 56 J. Cath. Legal Stud. 1-83 (2017):

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December 23, 2018 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

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 new papers debuting on the list at #3 and #5:

  1. [304 Downloads]   Profit Shifting Before and After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, by Kimberly Clausing (Reed)
  2. [291 Downloads]  The Illegality of Digital Services Taxes Under EU Law: Size Matters, by Ruth Mason (Virginia) & Leopoldo Parada (Turin)
  3. [271 Downloads]  How Data Should (Not) Be Taxed, by Johannes Becker (University of Muenster), Joachim Englisch (University of Muenster) & Deborah Schanz (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
  4. [191 Downloads]  The Digital Services Tax: A Conceptual Defense, by Wei Cui (British Columbia)
  5. [181 Downloads]  Beyond Notice-and-Comment: The Making of the § 199A Regulations, by Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College) & Leigh Osofsky (North Carolina)

December 23, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 22, 2018

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

The Ten Law Schools With The Biggest Decreases In 1L Enrollment

  1. Thomas Jefferson:  -76% (59 v. 241)
  2. Arizona Summit:  -65% (17 v. 49)
  3. John Marshall (Atlanta):  -50% (108 v. 216)
  4. Florida Coastal:  -43.% (60 v. 106)
  5. North Carolina Central:  -38% (103 v. 166)
  6. Southern Illinois:  -33% (76 v. 114)
  7. Appalachian:  -32% (50 v. 73)
  8. District of Columbia:  -31% (64 v. 93)
  9. Missouri (Kansas City):  -26% (90 v. 122)
  10. Michigan State:  -22%  (208 v. 266)

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December 22, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Ten Law Schools With The Biggest Increases In 1L Enrollment

Law.com, Enrollment Is Up—Way Up—At These Law Schools:

New enrollment figures from the American Bar Association show that first-year enrollment increased three percent this fall, which marks the first perceptible gain since 2010. ... We’ve crunched the numbers to find the 10 law schools that posted the biggest enrollment gains by percent, compared to 2017. 

  1. Wisconsin:  +82% (275 v. 151)
  2. UNLV:  +49% (157 v. 105)
  3. Arizona:  +46% (117 v. 80)
  4. UC-Irvine:  +44% (229 v. 159)
  5. Cincinnati:  +42% (136 v. 96)
  6. George Washington:  +39% (564 v. 407)
  7. UC-Davis:  36% (206 v. 151)
  8. Kentucky:  +34% (151 v. 113)
  9. Texas A&M:  +32% (182 v. 138)
  10. North Texas-Dallas:  +31% (136 v. 104)

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December 22, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shay: U.S. International Tax Reform — Competition And Convergence, Pay-Offs And Policy Failures

Stephen E. Shay (Harvard), The US International Tax Reforms: Competition and Convergence, Pay-Offs and Policy Failures, 46 Intertax 905 (2018):

The recent U.S. international tax reforms are a hodgepodge of nominal and effective tax rate reductions, a poorly designed export subsidy and unnecessarily complex revenue raising tax base protections. The most significant “international” change in the 2017 U.S. tax legislation is the “permanent” reduction in the U.S. corporate tax rate. The base protections were jerry built on existing architecture. There was no effort to address the pervasive issue of remote sellers into the U.S. market. The overall result is very complex, lacks policy coherence, and, over the longer term, loses revenue. While reduced rates moderate incentive effects the revised rules manage nonetheless to encourage offshore shifting of real investment as well as profits.

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December 22, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 21, 2018

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Layser Reviews Erbsen's The Constitutional Connection Between State Tax Authority And Personal Jurisdiction

This week, Michelle Layser (Illinois) reviews Allan Erbsen (Minnesota), Wayfair Undermines Nicastro: The Constitutional Connection Between State Tax Authority and Personal Jurisdiction, 128 Yale L.J.F. __ (2019).

Layser (2018)With the holiday season in full swing, most people tax professors have spent at least some time shopping on the internet and contemplating the impact of South Dakota v. Wayfair. By now, we’re all well versed in the basics. Wayfair is a milestone tax law case that sets forth a new interpretation of the Commerce Clause that permits states to enforce sales and use tax collection obligations against out-of-state online merchants. Right? Well, sort of.

According to Professor Allan Erbsen, labels like “tax law case” aren’t particularly helpful, and the doctrinal impact of Wayfair may extend well beyond the territorial borders of tax law—or even Commerce Clause jurisprudence. Erbsen argues that Wayfair’s Commerce Clause holding justifies reconsideration of the Court’s 2011 decision in J. McIntyre Machinery v. Nicastro, a Due Process case that had nothing to do with tax.

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December 21, 2018 in Michelle Layser, Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Restoring Democracy Through Tax Policy

GreatJeremy Bearer-Friend (NYU), Restoring Democracy Through Tax Policy:

Closing tax loopholes has long been a central priority for both center-left and progressive tax policy proposals. This approach provides an appealing messaging strategy by focusing on tax cheaters and by prioritizing incremental change. It is also necessarily inadequate. While closing loopholes is by no means detrimental, designing a tax platform around tax loopholes is insufficient to achieve progressive policy priorities: It’s inherently reactive and small in scale. A preoccupation with legislative fixes to loopholes also creates the negative inference that our tax administrators are not positioned to close loopholes on their own, shifting responsibility for loophole closing away from the Treasury Department while consuming scarce room on the congressional tax agenda.

Repealing the so-called Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 is also insufficient as a progressive tax platform. While there are many elements of TCJA that should be repealed, the pre-TCJA baseline was no promised land; inequality was already rampant prior to TCJA, our infrastructure was already crumbling, and the federal government was failing to provide basic services to the American people. The deep pockets of concentrated wealth left outside of our tax base prior to TCJA also produced political inequality. Indeed, the passage of TCJA is a natural consequence of these pre-TCJA trends: wealth concentration enabled by a broken tax code allowed huge businesses and their owners to further tilt tax policy in their favor, compounding their wealth and political power even further. Meanwhile, middle class workers continued to see themselves shut out of both the political process and the purportedly growing economy.

An alternative approach to loophole closing or TCJA repeal is to view tax policy as central to restoring our democracy. To the extent rising inequality and the collapse of the middle class is a threat to our Constitution and the values it enshrines, tax policy offers a direct answer to this crisis. More than just closing tax loopholes or repealing fly-by-night tax giveaways to the rich, tax policy can be central to the functioning of our democracy by rebuilding the middle class and reviving the full potential of our public institutions.

This report proposes a suite of tax policies to put forth an affirmative vision of tax policy. These proposals are rooted in four principles:

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December 21, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The 2017 Tax Law: A Boost To Growth Or A Missed Opportunity?

Jason Furman (Harvard), The 2017 Tax Law: A Boost to Growth or a Missed Opportunity?, Capitalism and Society, Vol. 13: Iss. 2, Article 2:

This paper summarizes and extends the analysis in Barro and Furman (2018) of the 2017 tax law, which dramatically reduced the corporate income tax rate. Barro and Furman find that the tax law as written would increase the annual growth rate of gross domestic product over the next decade by 0.02 to 0.04 percentage points. Extending these results, the effect of the tax law on national income would likely be even smaller, or perhaps negative, due to increased payments to foreigners needed to finance the larger budget deficit and increased investment and due to increased capital depreciation. It concludes with a proposal for genuine tax reform by expanding and making expensing permanent, disallowing interest deductions and raising rates that would increase economic growth by substantially more than making the current system permanent. Such reform also would make the tax code more stable, simpler and more efficient.

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December 21, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Most Law Schools Are Good For Democracy

Following up on Tuesday's post, Law Schools Are Bad For Democracy:  Chronicle of Higher Education, Most Law Schools Are Good for Democracy, by Margaret Raymond (Dean, Wisconsin):

I read with interest Samuel Moyn’s Law Schools Are Bad for Democracy (The Chronicle Review, December 16). Moyn teaches at Yale Law School, and he’s very critical of what happens there; his subtitle (“They whitewash the grubby scramble for power”) says it all. His critique, while heartfelt, is not, as he himself acknowledges, particularly new; he suggests that gifted young people enter law school hungry for social justice, but, in the end, they sell out, “enrolling in a trade school to solve other people’s legal problems for (often tremendous) pay.”

Perhaps Moyn would enjoy a stint at one of the many law schools that, across this country, already do what he suggests. Our students here at the University of Wisconsin Law School are not queued up to take their preordained place in an elite hierarchy. They come here to prepare to excel at the practice of law. Schools like ours provide law students with the tools to serve clients and drive social change, to resist elite power as well as to embrace it. Students in our clinics do not engage in “increasingly routine clinical self-assignments,” but meet demanding, intellectually and legally challenging client needs with energy, passion and commitment. Whether pursuing a remedy for a wrongfully convicted inmate, helping secure intellectual property protection for a new biomedical device, or helping an undocumented immigrant understand the legal context of an asylum claim, our students seek to build the abilities they need to seek justice for their clients, and to understand the ecosystem in which those skills are brought to bear. After a vigorous immersion in the reality of the legal system, they are ready to engage the system and also to challenge it. They are neither naïve nor resigned to “endlessly reproduce elite ascendancy.” ...

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December 21, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Why Pro Athletes May Lose A Fortune Because Of The New Tax Law

MarketWatch, Why Pro Athletes May Lose a Fortune Because of the New Tax Law:

Because of changes to the tax law that went into effect this year, professional athletes might need to put their CPAs on speed dial.

That’s because players in sports leagues like the NBA, NFL, MLB, WNBA and NHL have traditionally been able to deduct tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for things that they no longer can.

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December 21, 2018 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

In Legal Ploy, Harvard University Divorces Harvard Law Review

Harvard Law ReviewFollowing up on yesterday's post, Harvard Law Review Hits Back Against Discrimination Claims:  ValueWalk, In Legal Ploy, Harvard University Divorces Harvard Law Review:

Harvard University, in a novel legal argument to escape liability for alleged discrimination on the basis of race and sex, has claimed that the Harvard Law Review, the premier publication of its Harvard Law School, is not only completely separate from the University, but, because it receives no federal funding, immune from federal anti-discrimination laws.

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December 21, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

WSJ: Law Schools Find A Way To Fill Seats (No Lawyers Required)

Wall Street Journal, Law Schools Find a Way to Fill Seats (No Lawyers Required):

The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law used to be solely in the business of educating would-be lawyers.

Now, its faculty teach 1,177 students from around the world earning degrees other than a juris doctor—more than three times the number of traditional law students. Its $30 million annual budget today depends more on the non-law degree crowd than J.D. students.

The radical shift at the public university is playing out across law school campuses. Nationwide, 14% of law-school enrollees are pursuing non-J.D. programs, newly released numbers from the American Bar Association show, compared with 8% five years ago.

WSJ

The broadening student population is among the most visible changes from a postrecession period in which many law schools overhauled operations to shore up finances. Interest in law school finally started to rebound last year after several years of plummeting application numbers. ...

At least 60 of the 203 nationally accredited law schools now have master’s programs for students not interested in practicing law. ... 

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December 20, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Joint Tax Committee Releases General Explanation Of The Tax Cuts And Jobs Act

Joint Tax CommitteeA last-minute Christmas gift:  Joint Committee on Taxation, General Explanation Of Public Law 115-97 (JCS-1-18) (Dec. 20, 2018) (457 pages):

This document, prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation in consultation with the staffs of the House Committee on Ways and Means, the Senate Committee on Finance, and the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Policy, provides an explanation of Public Law No. 115–97 (also referred to as the ‘‘Act’’ throughout). The explanation of the provisions follows the order of the Act.

For each provision, the document includes a description of prior law, an explanation of the provision, and the effective date. The prior law section describes the law in effect immediately prior to enactment and does not reflect changes to the law made by the provision or by subsequent legislation. For contemporaneous legislative history related to the Act, please see the relevant House Ways and Means Committee report, the reconciliation recommendations submitted by the Senate Budget Committee, and the Conference Report. This document includes citations to some, but not necessarily all, regulations and other administrative guidance issued as of the time of publication of the document. These citations are included strictly as reference tools for readers.

December 20, 2018 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)