Paul L. Caron
Dean


Thursday, January 31, 2019

Thomas Presents The Modern Case For Withholding Today At Duke

Thomas (2017)Kathleen Delaney Thomas (North Carolina) presents The Modern Case for Withholding at Duke today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

Who is responsible for paying taxes to the government? Currently, the answer depends on one’s employment status. Employees enjoy the luxury of not having to think about tax remittance during the year because their employers withhold taxes from their paychecks. Non-employees, on the other hand, face a much more onerous system. They must keep track of and budget for taxes during the year, make quarterly remittances to the IRS, and may face penalties for failing to do so. Although this regime has been in place for many decades, there are several reasons why reform may be in order.

First, the rise of the Internet and other advances in technology have made withholding taxes by third parties more efficient and less costly than was historically the case. Second, advances in the social sciences have shed new light on why many taxpayers appear to prefer withholding and why it may serve to enhance overall welfare. Finally, the independent contractor workforce is expanding, propelled in large part by the growth of the gig economy. This means an increasing number of taxpayers are earning income outside of employment that is not captured by withholding, which imposes social costs and facilitates tax evasion.

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January 31, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Batchelder Presents Optimal Tax Theory As A Theory Of Distributive Justice Today At Indiana

Lily Batchelder (NYU) presents Optimal Tax Theory as a Theory of Distributive Justice at Indiana today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by David Gamage.

January 31, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Academic Support Professionals Can Better Support LGBTQ Law Students

Sarah Schendel (Suffolk), How Academic Support Professionals Can Better Support LGBTQ Law Students – And Why We Should:

This short essay addresses the unique role that academic support professionals can play in supporting LGBTQ students.

January 31, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. v. Davis And Prof. Cain’s Rewritten Opinion: An Intersectional Argument For Capping Section 1041

Diane Klein (La Verne), U.S. v. Davis and Prof. Cain’s Rewritten Opinion: An Intersectional Argument for Capping Section 1041:

Tax cases are about rich people. Given the demographic distribution of income and wealth in the United States, that means tax cases are mostly about rich White people. The tax issue in Davis can be stated simply: when shall transfers of appreciated assets incident to divorce be taxed? But thinking about these rules only from the point of view of the taxpayers themselves, and what is “fair” inter se or as compared to others similarly situated, may distract us from seeing broader issues also properly considered in tax policy. When we take into account not just sex/gender and marital status, but also race and class, the focus on one sort of inequality (between divorcing couples in different states) obscures another that is larger and more far-reaching (race-based wealth inequality). To address this, I suggest an amendment to Section 1041, a limit on tax-free transfers of appreciated assets incident to divorce. 

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January 31, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Increasing Tenure Denials By 10% Would Increase Academic Impact Of Law School's Median Professor By 50%

Adam S. Chilton (Chicago), Jonathan S. Masur (Chicago) & Kyle Rozema (Chicago), Rethinking Law School Tenure Standards:

Academic departments decide on tenure standards with limited evidence about their accuracy and efficacy. We study the implications of stricter tenure standards in law schools, an environment in which 95 percent of all tenure track hires receive tenure. To do so, we construct a novel dataset of the articles and citation counts of 1,720 law professors who were granted tenure at top-100 law schools between 1970 and 2007. We first show that pre-tenure research records are highly predictive of future academic impact. We then simulate the costs and benefits of applying stricter tenure standards using predictions of law professors' future academic impact at the time of their tenure decision. Of faculty members not tenured under stricter standards, only 5 percent have greater future academic impacts than their counterfactual replacements. Moreover, increasing tenure denials by 10 percentage points would increase the academic impact of a school's median professor by over 50 percent.

Brian Leiter (Chicago), Deny Tenure More Often, Raise Scholarly Impact:

I think their basic point is correct: law schools, especially those maintaining a high scholarly profile, should be more demanding about tenure.

ABA Journal, Lax Tenure Standards May Have High Costs at Elite Law Schools:

Schools usually apply strict standards for tenure, granting it only to the most talented and productive professors. But that is generally not true at the country’s top 14 law schools, where at least 95 percent of professors hired on the tenure track receive it, according to a paper by three University of Chicago Law School academics published Wednesday. ...

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January 31, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Cranor & Goldin: Does Informing Employees About Tax Benefits Increase Take-Up?

Taylor Cranor (J.D. 2022, Yale) & Jacob Goldin (Stanford), Does Informing Employees About Tax Benefits Increase Take-Up?: Evidence From EITC Notification Laws:

Incomplete take-up of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a source of persistent policy concern, with an estimated one-fifth of eligible households failing to claim the credit. To promote take-up, a growing number of jurisdictions require employers to provide EITC information to employees. We study the effect of these requirements, linking state and time variation in the adoption of the notification laws to administrative tax data.

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January 31, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Federal Judge Approves $5.5 Million Settlement In Temple U.S. News Rankings Scandal

Temple University (2018)Following up on my previous posts (links below): Wall Street Journal, Temple University Settles Suit Over Fudged Data on M.B.A. Ranking:

Temple University will pay nearly $5.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit by current and former business-school students after the university acknowledged that its online M.B.A. program’s top spot in a nationwide ranking was based on false data.

Under the terms of the settlement, for which a federal judge issued a preliminary approval Thursday, Temple will pay $4 million to students and alumni of its online masters of business administration program.

An additional $1.475 million will go toward students from other Fox Business School programs for which the university said it also submitted incorrect data to U.S. News & World Report for its annual rankings.

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January 31, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tax Law's Effects On Colleges Unfolding

Inside Higher Ed, Tax Law's Effects on Colleges Unfolding:

When President Trump at the end of 2017 signed a Republican-backed tax-reform package into law that included significant changes for colleges and universities, higher ed leaders were left waiting for answers.

They wondered about rules for calculating a new tax on endowments. They sought guidance regarding a tax on parking and transportation benefits for employees. Questions circulated about a new tax on highly compensated nonprofit employees that had drawn criticism while the tax law was still being drafted.

And leaders also wondered about the tax law’s effects on human behavior. For instance, how would an increase in the standard deduction affect donor behavior? Would alumni newly covered by the larger standard deduction be less likely to give to colleges and universities because they wouldn’t be itemizing their taxes?

About a year later, some answers have become clearer, while others remain clear as mud -- and still others can be addressed by mucking around with pages of guidance from the Internal Revenue Service.

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January 31, 2019 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Better Way To Tax The Rich (Raise Capital Gains Rate, Treat Investment Earnings Like Ordinary Income)

New York Times op-ed:  A Better Way to Tax the Rich, by Steven Rattner:

Kudos to our latest political supernova, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for helpfully bringing taxes back into focus, with her call for a new top tax rate of 70 percent on incomes above $10 million a year.

That seemingly simple concept makes for a great headline, but it’s not great tax policy. While I’m all for raising taxes on the wealthy (in large part because we need to deal with our growing deficit), there are more sensible ways to do it. ...

There are other, better ways to raise revenue — in particular, by increasing the tax rate on capital gains and dividends and closing loopholes.

NYT 2

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January 30, 2019 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Policing Grammar And Diction In The Multicultural Law School Classroom

TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Policing Grammar and Diction in the Multicultural Law School Classroom, by Dan Subotnik (Touro):

How should a faculty member react when a student keeps saying AKS instead of ASK?

A little background. At an AALS session in early January, Socio-Economic Pedagogy and Implicit Bias, a presenter was lamenting that, Afros aside, black women are sometimes constrained by employers in choosing hair styles. The braided hair that she was wearing, she pointed out, can be deeply rooted in black traditions, which would make interference with such hair choice both patriarchal and racially supremacist.

This illustration of implicit bias led me to a thought having nothing to do with hair. So I, a white man, ventured to explain to the panel that because I think that grammar is crucial to in-person and written communications, and because bad grammar can be taken as a sign of an inadequate education, I make it my business to correct it in class. (“I have went” and “between he and I” are not all that uncommon Long Islandisms.) Similarly, although in this case only in private, I advise individual students that their diction might hold them back in the future, and I offer to help in that regard.

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January 30, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Pac-12 May Sell Off 10% Stake For $500 Million Cash Infusion To Close Money Gap With SEC, Big Ten

Inside Higher Ed, For Sale: Renowned Sports League?:

In the last year, the Pacific-12 Conference — one of the country's best-known sports brands, whose members have won more national championships than any other league — has continued its multiyear decline.

Its member universities have had a lackluster showing in the most lucrative college sports, football and men’s basketball. And Pac-12 presidents and athletics leaders have complained about not keeping financial pace with the conference’s peers like the Big Ten and Southeastern Conferences, which are sharing significantly more revenue with their institutions.

That gap has apparently led to an unprecedented proposal: consolidating some of Pac-12’s assets and then selling a piece of that new entity to private investors.

Industry experts question whether the plan, which was first reported by The Oregonian, could succeed given the complexity in managing both a nonprofit (the conference) and a separate for-profit entity.

Pac-12 Newco

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January 30, 2019 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law Profs Should Talk Less, Smile More

Julie A. Oseid (St. Thomas (Minnesota)), Talk Less, Smile More, 67 J. Legal Educ. ___ (2019):

The loss of my voice from laryngitis sparks my most successful teaching experience and teaches me five things about teaching. First, I talk way more than I think I do. Second, forced creativity is still creativity. Third, talking is the easy way to teach. Fourth, students are resilient. Fifth, I don’t want to get in the way of my brilliant students.

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January 30, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Paul Weiss All-White Partner Class Stirs Debate On Diversity

Paul Weiss

New York Times, Elite Law Firm’s All-White Partner Class Stirs Debate on Diversity:

The post appeared on LinkedIn in early December: Paul, Weiss, one of the country’s most prominent and profitable law firms, said it was “pleased to announce” its new partner class.

In the image, 12 lawyers looked out at the world, grinning.

What followed, however, was nothing to smile about. In short order, people across the industry began to comment that all of the faces were white, and only one was a woman’s. ...

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January 30, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN Logo (2018)SSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  This ranking includes downloads from two 30- and 35-page papers by 12 tax professors on the new tax legislation that garnered a lot of media attention (including the New York Times and Washington Post) and generated a massive amount of downloads (the papers are the most downloaded papers over the past 12 months across all of SSRN and the most downloaded tax papers of all-time by over 200%).  See Brian Leiter (Chicago), 11 Tax Profs Blow Up The SSRN Download Rankings. (For some reason, Mitchell Kane (NYU) — the twelfth academic co-author of the two papers — is not included in the SSRN download rankings (although the downloads are included on his individual author page)).  Here is the new list (through December 30, 2018) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

 

 

All-Time

 

Recent

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

181,138

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

38,425

2

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

116,407

Daniel Hemel (Chicago)

36,224

3

David Gamage (Indiana)

112,061

David Gamage (Indiana)

31,785

4

Lily Batchelder (NYU)

109,917

Darien Shanske (UC-Davis) 

31,572

5

Daniel Hemel (Chicago)

109,616

Manoj Viswanathan (Hastings)

30,983

6

Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)

106,140

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

30,969

7

Cliff Fleming (BYU)

101,597

Lily Batchelder (NYU)

28,620

8

Manoj Viswanathan (Hastings)

98,469

David Kamin (NYU)

28,593

9

David Kamin (NYU)

98,444

Ari Glogower (Ohio State)

28,333

10

Rebecca Kysar (Fordham)

97,750

Cliff Fleming (BYU)

28,326

11

Ari Glogower (Ohio State)

95,987

Rebecca Kysar (Fordham) 

28,159

12

Michael Simkovic (USC)

41,885

Jacob Goldin (Stanford)   3,979

13

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

35,883

Joe Bankman (Stanford)

3,520

14

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

34,923

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

3,494

15

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

30,698

Michael Simkovic (USC)

3,487

16

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

26,407

Kirk Stark (UCLA)

3,401

17

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

25,369

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

3,120

18

Vic Fleischer (UC-Irvine)

25,151

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

3,027

19

Jim Hines (Michigan)

24,115

Ruth Mason (Virginia) 

2,680

20

Gladriel Shobe (BYU)

23,803

Sam Donaldson (Georgia St.)

2,534

21

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

23,213

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

2,498

22

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

23,067

Kyle Rozema (Chicago)

2,267

23

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

21,625

Hugh Ault (Boston College) 

2,065

24

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

21,512

Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College)

2,045

25

David Weisbach (Chicago)

20,663

Margaret Ryznar (Indiana-Indy)

1,870

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

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January 30, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings, Tax Rankings, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: The Hard Part Of Computer Science? Getting Into Class

New York Times, The Hard Part of Computer Science? Getting Into Class:

Lured by the prospect of high-salary, high-status jobs, college students are rushing in record numbers to study computer science.

Now, if only they could get a seat in class.

On campuses across the country, from major state universities to small private colleges, the surge in student demand for computer science courses is far outstripping the supply of professors, as the tech industry snaps up talent. At some schools, the shortage is creating an undergraduate divide of computing haves and have-nots — potentially narrowing a path for some minority and female students to an industry that has struggled with diversity.

The number of undergraduates majoring in the subject more than doubled from 2013 to 2017, to over 106,000, while tenure-track faculty ranks rose about 17 percent, according to the Computing Research Association, a nonprofit that gathers data from about 200 universities.

NYT

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January 30, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Homeownership Tax Subsidies And Structural Racism

Victoria J. Haneman (Creighton), Contemplating Homeownership Tax Subsidies and Structural Racism, 54 Wake Forest L. Rev. ___ (2019):

An insidious form of racism is facilitated by those who are heedless of structural inequities — or in this instance, the fact that legal structures have been developed to protect the experiences of those who are white, with an underlying obliviousness to the fact that persons of color may have a different experience. Almost 80% of the United States’ four centuries of existence has involved racialized slavery and extreme racial segregation. The subject of structural discrimination should be almost noncontroversial by this point: established social and political structures have been built upon a foundation of racial inequality, inherently conferring power and privilege to some, while perpetuating the marginalization of others. A system that treats equally those who are positioned unequally will only serve to exacerbate the pre-existing inequalities.

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January 30, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Kysar Presents Unravelling The Tax Treaty Today At NYU

Kysar (2018)Rebecca Kysar (Fordham) presents Unravelling the Tax Treaty at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Lily Batchelder and Daniel Shaviro:

Coordination among nations over the taxation of international transactions rests on a network of some 2,000 bilateral double tax treaties. The double tax treaty is, in many ways, the roots of the international system of taxation. That system, however, is in upheaval in the face of globalization, technological advances, taxpayer abuse, and shifting political tides. In the academic literature, however, scrutiny of tax treaties is largely confined to the albeit important question of whether tax treaties are beneficial for developing countries. Surprisingly little consideration has been paid to whether developed countries, like the United States, should continue to sign tax treaties with one another, and no formal revenue or economic analyses of the treaties has been undertaken by the United States government. In fact, little evidence or theory exists to support entrance into tax treaties by the United States, and examination of investment flows indicates the treaties likely lose significant U.S. revenues. Additionally, they enable taxpayer abuse, stagnate domestic policy, and thwart reforms of the antiquated international tax system. These consequences are particularly problematic for the United States. Other nations, after all, have been able to supplement their revenues and pursue destination-based taxation through treaty-friendly VATs.

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January 29, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

This Is Higher Education’s Golden Age

Two CheersChronicle of Higher Education:  Is This Higher Education’s Golden Age?, by Steven Brint (UC-Riverside; author, Two Cheers for Higher Education: Why American Universities Are Stronger than Ever — and How to Meet the Challenges They Face (Princeton University Press 2019):

American universities appear to be in deep trouble. Consider a few recent headlines: in The Atlantic: “The Pillaging of America’s State Universities” and “The Broken Promise of Higher Education”; in The New York Review of Books: “Our Universities: The Outrageous Reality” and “The Hi-Tech Mess of Higher Education.” The Chronicle, too, has contributed to the pervasive negativity: “An Era of Neglect,” “Higher Education Is Drowning in BS,” “The Slow Death of the University.”

Scholars have joined the joyless chorus. For many of them, American universities have transformed themselves into market-oriented enterprises, barely different from corporations: They charge exorbitant fees, effectively excluding students from the bottom half of the socioeconomic hierarchy; they shortchange students’ educational experiences by obsessing over the bottom line; they have created a caste system with low-paid adjuncts doing most of the teaching. In the scramble for dollars, these critics assert, universities have forsaken their social and cultural responsibilities.

The truly puzzling feature of this narrative is how little relation it bears to reality. Far from supporting this gloomy perspective, the statistical evidence suggests that American universities have never been stronger or more prominent in public life than they are now. At major research universities, from 1980 to 2010, research expenditures grew by more than 10 times in inflation-adjusted dollars, while high-quality publications cataloged in the Web of Science grew by nearly three times. Few, if any, sectors were as important to the emerging knowledge economy as universities, and the federal government supported their development with high, if never fully sufficient, funding. Federal R&D funding, estimated at more than $30 billion in 2017, is largely responsible for the explosive growth of research during this period. The federal financial-aid system provided essential fuel for higher education’s expansion, doling out about $65 billion in Pell Grants, work-study funds, and tax benefits in 2015 — not counting the hundreds of billions of dollars in loans that are also available through federal lending. Both support systems have trended sharply upward in inflation-adjusted dollars since the 1980s, including during recessionary periods.

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January 29, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

More On Elizabeth Warren's Wealth Tax

Following up on my previous posts:

New York Times op-ed:  Elizabeth Warren Does Teddy Roosevelt, by Paul Krugman:

America invented progressive taxation. And there was a time when leading American politicians were proud to proclaim their willingness to tax the wealthy, not just to raise revenue, but to limit excessive concentration of economic power.

“It is important,” said Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, “to grapple with the problems connected with the amassing of enormous fortunes” — some of them, he declared, “swollen beyond all healthy limits.”

Today we are once again living in an era of extraordinary wealth concentrated in the hands of a few people, with the net worth of the wealthiest 0.1 percent of Americans almost equal to that of the bottom 90 percent combined. And this concentration of wealth is growing; as Thomas Piketty famously argued in his book “Capital in the 21st Century,” we seem to be heading toward a society dominated by vast, often inherited fortunes.

So can today’s politicians rise to the challenge? Well, Elizabeth Warren has released an impressive proposal for taxing extreme wealth. And whether or not she herself becomes the Democratic nominee for president, it says good things about her party that something this smart and daring is even part of the discussion.

The Warren proposal would impose a 2 percent annual tax on an individual household’s net worth in excess of $50 million, and an additional 1 percent on wealth in excess of $1 billion. The proposal was released along with an analysis by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman of Berkeley, two of the world’s leading experts on inequality.

Saez and Zucman found that this tax would affect only a small number of very wealthy people — around 75,000 households. But because these households are so wealthy, it would raise a lot of revenue, around $2.75 trillion over the next decade.

Make no mistake: This is a pretty radical plan.

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January 29, 2019 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

A Simple Fix For A $17 Billion Loophole: How States Can Reclaim Revenue Lost To Tax Havens

PIRGU.S. PIRG, A Simple Fix For A $17 Billion Loophole: How States Can Reclaim Revenue Lost to Tax Havens (press release):

Too many corporations dodge both state and federal taxes by shifting U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. However, state-level actions against tax dodging could help states recoup billions of dollars even without further reforms from Congress, according to a new report called A Simple Fix for a $17 Billion Loophole, released today by U.S. PIRG Education Fund, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), SalesFactor.org and the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC).

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January 29, 2019 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA House Of Delegates Again Rejects 75% Bar Passage Within 2 Years Accreditation Standard, 79% to 21%; Final Decision Rests With Council

ABA Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  ABA Journal, ABA House of Delegates Rejects Changes to the Bar Passage Standard for Law Schools:

For the second time, the ABA House of Delegates voted against a proposal to tighten a bar passage rate standard for accredited law schools. At the ABA Midyear Meeting in Las Vegas on Monday, House members were asked to stand for a vote count, and the final vote was 88 in favor of the resolution, and 334 opposed. 

Language in Resolution 105called for at least 75 percent of a law school’s graduates to pass a bar exam within a two-year period. Under ABA rules, the house can send a potential revision, which today was for Standard 316, back to the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar twice for review with or without recommendations, but the council has the final decision on matters related to law school accreditation. ...

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January 29, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The Most Downloaded Tax Professors In 2018

  1. SSRN Logo (2018)Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan):  38,425
  2. Daniel Hemel (Chicago):  36,224
  3. David Gamage (Indiana):  31,785
  4. Darien Shanske (UC-Davis):  31,572
  5. Manoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings):  30,983
  6. Dan Shaviro (NYU):  30,969
  7. Lily Batchelder (NYU):  28,620
  8. David Kamin (NYU):  28,593
  9. Ari Glogower (Ohio State):  28,333
  10. Cliff Fleming (BYU):  28,326
  11. Rebecca Kysar (Fordham):  28,159
  12. Jacob Goldin (Stanford):   3,979
  13. Joe Bankman (Stanford):  3,520
  14. Richard Ainsworth (Boston University):  3,494
  15. Michael Simkovic (USC):  3,487
  16. Kirk Stark (UCLA):  3,401
  17. Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis):  3,120
  18. Dhammika Dharmapala (Chicago):  3,027
  19. Ruth Mason (Virginia):  2,680
  20. Sam Donaldson (Georgia State):  2,534
  21. Brad Borden (Brooklyn):  2,498
  22. Kyle Rozema (Chicago):  2,267
  23. Hugh Ault (Boston College):  2,065
  24. Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College):  2,045
  25. Margaret Ryznar (Indiana-Indianapolis):  1,870

January 29, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings, Tax Rankings, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

How To Choose Where To Get Your Tax LL.M. Degree

LLM 2Above the Law, How To Choose Where To Get Your Tax LL.M. Degree:

A few weeks ago, I wrote about whether it is a good idea to get a LL.M. in Taxation after law school. To make a long story short, go if you know what you want to do after graduation and have either prior professional tax experience or have done well in your tax classes. Don’t go just because you think tax “sounds interesting,” or you want to do a law school do-over.

So today, I want to give some advice to help future tax lawyers choose the right Tax LL.M. program. ...

First, consider options other than a Tax LL.M. Some law schools do not have a formal Tax LL.M. program but award a general LL.M. with a tax specialization. There are also other advanced tax degrees. The more common ones are the Master of Taxation, the Master of Science in Taxation, and the Master of Business Taxation degrees. There are also MBA programs with a focus on tax and accounting. ... Which one is right for you depends on your goals. ...

Second, when it comes to Tax LL.M. degrees, rankings still matter, although to a point. The TaxProf Blog publishes its annual top tax law programs taken from the U.S. News Tax Law Rankings. NYU is consistently ranked as the top Tax LL.M. program, with Florida and Georgetown rounding out the top three. The rest of the top stay the same although their rank tends to shuffle every year.

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January 29, 2019 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Lasting Impact Of IRS Audits on Tax Compliance

Jason DeBacker (Middle Tennessee State), Bradley T. Heim (Indiana), Anh Tran (Indiana) & Alexander Yuskavage (Office of Tax Analysis, U.S. Treasury Department), Once Bitten, Twice Shy?: The Lasting Impact of IRS Audits on Tax Compliance, 61 J.L. & Econ. 1 (2018):

This paper studies the impact of tax enforcement activity on subsequent individual taxpaying behavior. We exploit four waves of randomized Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits of individual income tax filers during the 2006-2009 period to study both the short and long run effects of audits on taxpaying behavior. Rich and confidential IRS data allow us to show the differential impact of audits across sources of income and deductions. The results highlight how the effects of audits on subsequent compliance behavior are impacted by other aspects of tax policy.

January 29, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Lawsky Presents Form As Formalization Today At Wayne State

Lawsky (2017)Sarah Lawsky (Northwestern) presents Form as Formalization at Wayne State today as part of its Charles H. Gershenson Faculty Workshop Series:

There are, roughly speaking, two approaches to applying computing to law, which can be thought of as a bottom up approach and a top down approach. The bottom up approach uses large amounts of data in some way—to make predictions, for example. Machine learning is one such approach; neural nets are another. This is generally seen to be the approach with the most potential, the one that leads to the “data driven future” of legal practice. The “top down” approach would derive conclusions from the law itself, after making the law legible to the computer in some way, perhaps through hand-encoding, perhaps through natural language processing or some similar approach to read the actual text of a statute or regulation.

The top-down approach, also sometimes called computational law, is generally considered to have much less potential. But even those whose dismiss computational law point to one example of success in encoding the law: TurboTax and similar tax compliance programs. Thus one finds enthusiastic references to creating “TurboTax for police complaints,”“TurboTax for copyright,” “TurboTax for immigration,” and so forth.

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January 28, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Skadden, Proskauer Get Creative To Recruit Women And Minority Law Students

PSNational Law Journal, Skadden, Proskauer Get Creative to Recruit Women and Minority Law Students:

A pair of prominent law firms are stepping up their efforts to recruit women and minority law students with programs they say are unlike any others now offered in Big Law.

In June, Proskauer will launch its first Proskauer Prep bootcamp, bringing 30 women who are about to start law school to the firm’s New York office for a week of instruction on how to succeed in law school.

And Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is beefing up its six-year-old 1L Scholars Program, allowing participants who return as summer associates the following year to design their own experience—choosing practice areas and offices where they wish to work and offering them a paid externship at the firm during the school year.

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January 28, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Indefensibility Of U.S. Fringe Benefit Tax Laws

Mike Rappaport (San Diego), The Indefensibility of U.S. Fringe Benefit Tax Laws:

One indefensible policy involves superior tax treatment for employee fringe benefits, such as health insurance and retirement benefits, which operates to harm lower income people.

It is well known that our tax system treats people who have to purchase their own health insurance differently than it treats people who receive employer provided health insurance. If one’s employer provides health insurance, the employee need not pay tax on the value of the insurance, even though this is a valuable fringe benefit. By contrast, if one does not receive employer provided health insurance, then one has to take one’s wages, pay taxes on them, and then pay for the insurance from those wages. Thus, the employer provided health insurance is tax-free but the individually purchased health insurance is taxed. This is indefensible. It is both economically inefficient and treats people who work for small companies, which are much less likely to provide health insurance, worse than those who work for larger companies. Many of these people at the smaller companies earn less income.

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January 28, 2019 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

The 'Magnificent 7' Business Schools All Report Declines In Applications

Following up on my previous posts:

Poets & Quants, New M7 Data, Familiar Magnificence:

[T]he M7 — the “Magnificent,” or “Magic,” 7 schools long considered the elite of the elite — ... are ranked in the top 10 in just about every ranking that matters of U.S. schools, and in the top 20 globally. And even as forces beyond the control of the masters of the biz ed universe buffet mid- and lower-tier schools’ MBA programs, the M7 continue to be bastions of strength, in admissions as well as academics. They are talent magnets, and probably always will be.

But even kings have their problems. Looking at the bundle of 2018 school data, amid the usual mountain of superlatives is at least one glaring soft spot that the M7’s deans must puzzle over: a weakening of international interest in attending a U.S. school, which has contributed to a widespread slump in application volume that even the top schools have not escaped. It’s no longer a mystery why it's happening; but even in the rarefied air of the best of the best, the reality of a long-term downturn in the MBA landscape can’t be ignored.

 

School

Application Decline

1

Chicago (Booth)

-8.2%

2

Penn (Wharton)

-6.7%

3

Stanford

-4.6%

4

Harvard

-4.5%

5

MIT (Sloan)

-4.3%

6

Northwestern (Kellogg)

-2.7%

7

Columbia

-2.6%

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January 28, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lesson From Congress: Overbearing Oversight?

Senate_budget_committeeToday’s lesson comes from Congress.  It is a primer on IRS oversight.  It was prompted by an amazing letter I found buried on my desk.  

In an October 2015 hearing, House Ways and Means Committee member Diane Black questioned then IRS Commissioner John Koskinen about the lack of IRS responses to 10 GAO oversight recommendations from July 2015. 

On October 23, 2015, Koskinen sent her a letter.  The letter explained the status of the 10 oversight recommendations.  It then also explained the status of 200 additional recommendations from the prior three years, recommendations the IRS had also not responded to.  Of the 210 total, 167 had not yet reached their original due dates for responsive actions.  The other 43 were late but had received extensions from the oversight bodies who had made the recommendations: the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). 

The number 210 is not the amazing part.  The amazing part is that the letter explained that during that same three-year period, the IRS has dealt with some 1,240 oversight recommendations just from GAO and TIGTA.  That number does not even include the myriad directives and orders from various Congressional oversight committees, nor the yearly Congressional-mandated oversight from the National Taxpayer Advocate.  Thinking about the FTE’s needed to address just these 1,240 recommendations makes me dizzy. 

I think you will be impressed by the amount of oversight the IRS is subject to; I make no prediction on whether your impression will be good or bad.  But I hope today's lesson helps you understand that, as the IRS re-opens with its depleted workforce, it faces more than the tsunami of correspondence from worried taxpayers, and a first return filing season under the wicked complexities of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  It must also keep responding to a relentless review of every facet of its operations.  Most of the review is done in good faith.  Some of it is not, as I explain below the fold.  But either way, one can reasonably ask how much is too much.  Does the amount of oversight truly make for better tax administration, or not.

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January 28, 2019 in Bryan Camp, Congressional News, Miscellaneous, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rather Than Increase 1L Class Size, Some Law Schools Shrink Strategically

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  ABA Journal, Rather Than Increasing 1L Class Size in 2018, Some Law Schools Shrunk Strategically:

While 117 law schools this year increased their first-year class sizes, following a growth of more than 8 percent in applications, a few others purposely had fewer 1L students in 2018. 

“When we saw that the applicant pool was much stronger at the top, we set a goal to go up two points for the median LSAT, assuming that most schools would go up one point,” says Melanie Leslie, the dean of Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law. The first-year class has 334 students, compared to 368 1Ls in 2017. The median undergraduate grade-point average increased, from 3.51 to 3.52, and the median Law School Admissions Test score rose from 159 to 161. ...

Prior TaxProf Blog posts:

January 28, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Georgetown/International Tax Policy Forum Conference: Who Should Tax International Income?

GITEPThe Georgetown Law School Institute of International Economic Law (IIEL) and the International Tax Policy Forum (ITPF) are hosting a conference on Who Should Tax International Income? on February 1 (program) (registration):

Conventions and concepts developed under the auspices of the League of Nations have served as the architecture for international tax relations among developed economies for almost 100 years. Over the last few years, however, historic concepts regarding jurisdiction to tax, attribution of profits to permanent establishments, and arm’s-length transfer pricing have come under pressure. Notable national developments include the UK diverted profits tax, the German royalty barrier, the French and Italian digital services taxes, and the U.S. Base Erosion and Anti-abuse Tax (BEAT), to name just a few.

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January 28, 2019 in Tax, Tax Conferences | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Should The ABA Tighten Bar Passage Standards For Law Schools?

ABA Logo (2016)Following up on my recent posts (links below):  ABA Journal, Should the ABA Change Bar Passage Standards for Law Schools?:

In the days before the ABA House of Delegates revisits a proposed standard revision to tighten bar passage requirements for accredited law schools, some say an in-depth diversity study should precede any changes made.

Language for the proposed revision to Standard 316—which calls for a bar passage rate of at least 75 percent within two years—is unchanged from what was submitted to the House of Delegates at the 2017 February midyear meeting. The body rejected the proposal, which is listed as Resolution 105 for the 2019 ABA Midyear Meeting. Under ABA rules, the House of Delegates can send a proposed standard revision back to the council twice for review with or without recommendations. But the council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which submitted the proposed revision, has the final decision on matters related to law school accreditation.

No accredited law school has ever been out of compliance with the current version of Standard 316, and there are various ways to meet its current requirements. One is that at least 75 percent of graduates from the five most recent calendar years have passed a bar exam, or there’s a 75 percent pass rate for at least three of those five years.

Also, a school can be in compliance if just 70 percent of its graduates pass the bar at a rate within 15 percentage points of the average first-time bar pass rate for ABA-approved law school graduates in the same jurisdiction for three out the five most recently completed calendar years.

In 2018, the council released a memo addressing diversity concerns about the proposed revision, as well as what it would mean for law schools in California, where the cut score of 144 is the nation’s second highest. The memo mentioned a voluntary survey, which had responses from 92 law schools.

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January 27, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (6)

Lewis & Clark Is Seeking To Hire A Tax Clinician

LEWIS & CLARK LAW SCHOOL
ASSISTANT CLINICAL PROFESSOR, LOW-INCOME TAXPAYER CLINIC

Lewis & Clark LogoLewis & Clark Law School welcomes applications for an Assistant Clinical Professor position in the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC). This is a non-tenure track contract position that is eligible for promotion to an indefinite contract Clinical Professor. This position is dependent on the LITC grant from the IRS. Lewis & Clark Law School has been receiving the LITC grant for almost 20 years.

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January 27, 2019 | 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 new papers debuting on the list at #1, #2, and #3:

  1. [409 Downloads]  Spiritus Ex Machina: Addressing the Unique BEPS Issues of Autonomous Artificial Intelligence by Using 'Personality' and 'Residence', by Lucas de Lima Carvalho (University of Sao Paulo)
  2. [380 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)
  3. [305 Downloads]  Ten Reasons to Prefer Tax Partnerships Over S-Corporations, by Bradley Borden (Brooklyn)
  4. [267 Downloads]  The Impact of Soda Taxes: Pass-through, Tax Avoidance, and Nutritional Effects, by Stephen Seiler (Stanford), Anna Tuchman (Northwestern) & Song Yao (Minnesota)
  5. [230 Downloads]  The Proposed Section 163(j) Regulations, by David Miller, Sejin Park, Mani Kakkar & Sean Webb (Proskauer)

January 27, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Webinar On The Government Shutdown: Monday 1:00 PM EST

ABA Tax Section (2017)As the IRS and Tax Court reopen (at least for about three weeks), readers might be interested in resources to help them.  The IRS has published a short announcement that answers some basic questions, here.   In addition, the ABA Tax Section is hosting a webinar on the effects of the shutdown on administrative operations and on Tax Court cases. The 1.5 hour webinar is scheduled for Monday, January 28, 2019 starting at 1:00 pm EST.  The cost is $10 for Tax Section members and $25 for non-members.  It is free to Low Income Tax Clinic or other pro-bono attorneys.  

 Topics will include:

  • How the shutdown affected the Service’s issuance of notices;
  • The ways taxpayers and representatives should consider reacting and responding to Service correspondence;
  • The impact of the shutdown on applications for discretionary relief and IRS administrative services; 
  • The Service’s current collection efforts; and
  • The impact on filings with the United States Tax Court.

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January 27, 2019 in Bryan Camp, News, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Eighteen Law Schools Would Fail ABA's Proposed 75% Bar Passage Within 2 Years Accreditation Standard

Following up on my previous posts:

USA Today, Law Schools Where Too Many Graduates Fail the Bar Exam May Face Tougher Sanctions:

Arizona Summit Law School in Phoenix [is] one of 18 U.S. law schools where at least a quarter of graduates who took the bar exam didn't pass within two years, according to a yearlong USA TODAY Network investigation into the schools.

The analysis of data from the American Bar Association shows that the law schools include large state universities, private for-profits and independent colleges enrolling, in all, about 8,000 students, or 7% of U.S. law school students.

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January 26, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

The Constitutionality Of Elizabeth Warren's Proposed Federal Wealth Tax

Following up on yesterday's post, Elizabeth Warren Proposes Annual Federal Wealth Tax On Net Worth > $50 Million:

Ari Glogower (Ohio State), A Constitutional Wealth Tax:

Policymakers and scholars are giving serious consideration to a federal wealth tax. Wealth taxation could address the harms from rising economic inequality, promote equality of social and economic opportunity, and raise the revenue needed to fund critical government programs. These reasons for taxing wealth may not matter, however, if a federal wealth tax is unconstitutional.

Scholars debating the constitutionality of a wealth tax generally focus on a specific question: Would a tax on a base of a taxpayer’s wealth (a “traditional wealth tax”) be a “direct tax” under the Constitution that is subject to apportionment among the states by population? Apportionment would be impossible such a tax, which explains the centrality of this question in the prior literature.

This Article argues, in contrast, that the possible constitutional restrictions on a traditional wealth tax may not matter. If the Supreme Court were to find that the Constitution foreclosed a traditional wealth tax, 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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January 26, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (10)

Tax Justice Blossoms At UNLV Law School

UNLV Logo (2016)Tax Justice Blossoms at Boyd Law School:

Since opening its doors in August 2017, the Rosenblum Family Foundation Tax Clinic at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law has provided pro bono “tax justice” to qualifying low-income families and taxpayers for whom English is a second language. The clinic serves all of Nevada and is currently managing nearly 50 client matters, with Boyd students taking the lead on tax matters under faculty supervision.

Partially funded by a federal grant requiring matching funds, the Tax Clinic has been endowed with a generous donation by local attorney/businessman Russell Rosenblum, founding member of RMR Capital Group. Clinic faculty serve Nevadans with ongoing taxpayer education and outreach programs, including an active Twitter account (@UNLVLawLITC) and “Tax Talk Tuesdays,” a commuter radio segment that provides weekly tax tips and traps for the unwary. The segment airs at 8:45 a.m. Tuesdays on UNLV’s station KUNV-FM 91.5, also streaming live at 915TheSource.org/Listen.

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January 26, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, January 25, 2019

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Kleiman Reviews The Impact of Soda Taxes

This week, Ariel Jurow Kleiman (San Diego) reviews a new work by Stephen Seiler (Stanford), Anna Tuchman (Northwestern) & Song Yao (Minnesota), The Impact of Soda Taxes: Pass-through, Tax Avoidance, and Nutritional Effects (Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research Paper, No. 19-12).

StevensonIf a tax could be considered trendy, the label would aptly apply to the soda tax.  In 2013, no U.S. city levied a tax on sugary drinks. Today, seven major cities do so (see also here). Such taxes have also been enacted at the national level in a diverse group of countries including Mexico, France, and Sri Lanka. The tax’s proliferation heightens the need for data on its efficacy, especially when implemented at the local level. Stephan Seiler, Anna Tuchman, and Song Yao’s recent work on Philadelphia’s tax on sugar-sweetened beverages responds to such a need. Their research offers valuable insights for public health advocates and policymakers considering a soda tax, whether as a source of revenue or as a response to increasing obesity rates.

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January 25, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Elizabeth Warren Proposes Annual Federal Wealth Tax On Net Worth > $50 Million

Hemel: The Nonprofit Sector And The Federal Tax System

Daniel Hemel (Chicago), Tangled Up in Tax: The Nonprofit Sector and the Federal Tax System, in The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook (3rd ed., Patricia Bromley & Walter Powell eds., Stanford University Press, 2019):

If the relationship between the federal tax system and the nonprofit sector is to be summed up in a single word, “entanglement” rather than “exemption” would be the appropriate term. Nonprofit organizations in the United States are caught in a complex web of nonprofit-specific tax provisions, and even seemingly unrelated tax statutes often tie back to the nonprofit sector in winding ways. This chapter seeks to understand how the federal tax laws lead to and limit the nonprofit sector’s entanglement with the public and for-profit sectors. It distinguishes among three types of entanglement—administrative entanglement, political entanglement, and market entanglement—and goes on to explain how society’s decisions to support the nonprofit sector through tax exemptions and tax deductions both respond to and result in entanglement of all three types. It then evaluates the specific strategies of entanglement management that the federal tax system employs.

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January 25, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Value Of Legal Writing, Law Review, And Publication

Lawrence J. Trautman (Western Carolina University, College of Business), The Value of Legal Writing, Law Review, and Publication, 51 Ind. L. Rev. 693 (2018):

While highly developed communication skills contribute substantially to success in other professions and in our personal relationships, legal research and writing is likely the foundation for a successful career in the law. Law review articles are cited by judges in their opinions, by Congress and regulatory authorities in the making of law, and regulations and policy. Any great legal orator, litigator, or Supreme Court Justice will need the benefit of quickly recognizing legally significant fact patterns, the ability to conduct research regarding statutory and case law, and the ability to make compelling, cogent legal arguments. The experience gained from legal research and writing sharpens all these tools.

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January 25, 2019 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

U.S. Supreme Court To Hear Key Income Tax Issue For $120 Billion Trust Industry

Forbes, U.S. Supreme Court To Hear Key Income Tax Issue For $120 Billion Trust Industry:

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will hear a trust tax case that has significant implications for states and trust beneficiaries: Hundreds of millions of dollars of annual tax revenue hang in the balance. “It’s a big development,” says Carol Harrington, an estate lawyer with McDermott Will & Emery.

The question posed in North Carolina Department of Revenue v. the Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust is: Does the due process clause prohibit states from taxing trusts based on trust beneficiaries’ in-state residency?

partner Ronald Aucutt, editor of the recent developments materials for the Heckerling Institute of Estate Planning, called out the ongoing controversy regarding limits on the state income taxation of trusts as the No. 1 Estate Planning Development of 2018. Speaking at the Heckerling conference this week, estate lawyer Steve Akers of Bessemer Trust posed the vexing question this way: “Can a state tax a trust located in another state? What are minimum contacts?”

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January 25, 2019 in New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Shutdown Imperils D.C. Bar Exam, Swearing-In Postponed

ShutdownNational Law Journal, Shutdown Imperils DC Bar Exam, Swearing-In Postponed:

Law graduates who expected to sit for the bar exam in the District of Columbia next month are in limbo, awaiting official word on whether the test will take place amid the partial shutdown of the federal government.

The District of Columbia Courts’ Committee on Admissions is closed due to the shutdown, and it warned test takers earlier this month that the exam could also be impacted. In a message on its website, the committee said it was still planning to administer the exam on Feb. 26-27, but that it was “closely monitoring any new developments with the federal government shutdown.” The status of the exam could change, it warned. (The federal government controls the funding for D.C., which has a dispensation to keep essential functions operating amid shutdowns.)

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January 25, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Raskolnikov Presents Distributional Ignorance Today At Duke

Raskolnikov (2018)Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia) presents Distributional Ignorance at Duke today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

No modern government can ignore distribution with impunity, and the U.S. government is no exception. Yet in all likelihood, U.S. policymakers did ignore large and widespread distributional effects of their policies ranging from trade to immigration, competition, capital market regulation, environmental protection, and others. Although each of these policies affected many people, it just so happened that most of them likely disadvantaged a particular group of Americans consisting of low-skill, low-education, pre-retirement-age workers. These workers are the likely casualties of distributional ignorance. Not surprisingly, they are also some of the most ardent opponents of many U.S. policies adopted over the past several decades.

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January 24, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Ring Presents Tax Law's Workplace Shift Today At Ohio State

Ring (2017)Diane Ring (Boston College) presents Tax Law's Workplace Shift (with Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College)) at Ohio State today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series hosted by Ari Glogower:

In December 2017, Congress passed major tax reform, including new § 199A of the Internal Revenue Code. This new provision grants independent contractors and other passthrough taxpayers—but not employees or corporations—a potential deduction equal to 20% of their qualified business income. This deduction will affect tens of millions of taxpayers and may be a significant boon to those eligible. Critics argue that the deduction may cause a large-scale workplace shift in favor of independent contractor jobs, as workers seek to take the new deduction. Such a shift could cause workers who leave traditional employment to lose important employee protections and benefits, leaving them more vulnerable.

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January 24, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)