TaxProf Blog

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Marian Presents The Making Of International Tax Law: Empirical Evidence From Natural Language Processing Today At NYU

Marian (2016)Omri Marian (UC-Irvine) presents The Making of International Tax Law: Empirical Evidence from Natural Language Processing (with Elliott Ash (ETH Zurich)) at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Lily Batchelder and Daniel Shaviro:

We offer the first attempt at empirically testing the level of transnational consensus on the legal language controlling international tax matters. We also investigate the institutional framework of such consensus-building. We build a dataset of 4,052 bilateral income tax treaties, as well as 16 model tax treaties published by the United Nations (UN), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United States. We use natural language processing to perform pair-wise comparison of all treaties in effect at any given year. We identify clear trends of convergence of legal language in bilateral tax treaties since the 1960s, particularly on the taxation of cross-border business income.

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April 2, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Galle Presents How To Save Unemployment Insurance Today At Georgetown

Galle (2019)Brian Galle (Georgetown) presents How to Save Unemployment Insurance, 50 Ariz. St. L.J. 1009 (2018), at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John Brooks and Lilian Faulhaber:

Unemployment insurance is almost universally recognized as one of a government’s best tools for fighting recessions, as well as an important source of relief for working-class families suffering temporary hardship. Unfortunately, as commentators and Congress have recognized, the U.S. system of financing its unemployment insurance program is seriously dysfunctional. Reform proposals, however, do not fully diagnose the causes of current failures. In particular, other commentators neglect the role of fiscal myopia in state officials’ failures to save for future UI needs. For instance, reformers mostly propose offering rewards or penalties that will take effect far in the future. These incentives have only small effects on myopic officials.

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April 2, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Avi-Yonah Presents Bridging The Red-Blue Divide: A Proposal For U.S. Regional Tax Relief At Florida

Avi-YonahReuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) presented Bridging the Red-Blue Divide: A Proposal for U.S. Regional Tax Relief (with Orli Avi-Yonah (Catholic Social Services, Washtenaw County), Nir Fishbien (S.J.D. 2019, Michigan) & Haiyan Xu (S.J.D. 2019, Michigan) at Florida yesterday as part of its Tax Colloquium Series:

Most large federal countries have explicit ways to reduce the economic disparities between more and less developed regions. In Germany, for example, federal revenues are distributed by a formula that takes into account the relative level of wealth of each state (the so-called Finanzausgleich, or fiscal equalization). Similar mechanisms are found in Australia, Canada, India, and other large federal countries. The United States, on the other hand, has no such explicit redistribution. Each state is generally considered equal and sovereign and the federal government does not distribute revenues to equalize their spending capacity. While the overall impact of the federal tax and transfer system may be to shift revenues from richer to poorer states, this is not acknowledged and to the extent it is discussed in the literature it is generally condemned as unfair to the states that send more revenues to Washington than they get back in federal transfer payments. Nor is it politically likely that the US will adopt a formal fiscal equalization mechanism.

This paper proceeds from the normative position that the increasing gap between the richer and poorer areas of the US is a problem that requires federal intervention and that the federal tax system can play a role in that intervention.

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April 2, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Effectiveness Of Voter Registration Drives At Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Sites

Vanessa Williamson (Brookings Institution), The Filer Voter Experiment: How Effective Is Voter Registration at Tax Time? (Apr. 2, 2019):

In this paper, Vanessa Williamson discusses the Filer Voter experiment, which assessed the effectiveness of conducting voter registration drives at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites for lower-income households in Cleveland and Dallas. The Filer Voter program doubled the likelihood of unregistered tax filers registering to vote. Replicated at all VITA sites nationally, this would lead to about 115,000 unregistered eligible voters to register to vote, including 63,000 people who would not otherwise register.

Brookings 2

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April 2, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Crawford: Blockchain Wills

BlockchainBridget J. Crawford (Pace), Blockchain Wills, 94 Ind. L.J. ___ (2019):

Blockchain technology has the potential to radically alter the way that people have executed wills for centuries. This Article makes two principal claims – one descriptive and the other normative. Descriptively, the Article suggests that traditional wills formalities have been relaxed to the point that they no longer serve the cautionary, protective, evidentiary and channeling functions that scholars have used to justify strict compliance with wills formalities. Widespread use of digital technology in everyday communications has led to several notable cases in which individuals have attempted to execute wills electronically. These wills have had a mixed reception. Three states currently recognize electronic wills and the Uniform Law Commission is drafting a model Electronic Wills Act This Article identifies some of the weaknesses in existing state statutes and the model law and considers how technology can address those problems.

This Article explores how blockchain, the open-source technology underlying cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, could be harnessed to create a distributed ledger of wills that would maintain a reliable record of a testator’s desires for the post-mortem distribution of estate assets.

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April 2, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Báez & Brauner: Taxing The Digital Economy Post-BEPS

Andrés Báez (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) & Yariv Brauner (Florida), Taxing the Digital Economy Post BEPS ... Seriously:

For years the advent of the digital economy has left countries stumped in their attempt to tax income earned by foreign firms without physical presence within their jurisdiction. International organizations and their member countries have failed in their attempts to tweak the rules of the international tax regime and address these challenges presented by the digital economy. This article argues that such conservative approach could not work, and fundamental reform is inevitable.

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April 2, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Tax Lawyer Publishes New Issue

Lesson From The Tax Court: Telling Stories

I teach my tax students that representing a taxpayer is about being the taxpayer’s voice.  They must tell the taxpayer’s story as best they can fit the facts to the law.  Thus, for example, in order to deduct expenses taxpayers must tell a convincing story that the expenses relate to an activity engaged in for profit.  Last week's Lesson concerned taxpayers who said they had converted their former personal residence into income producing property.  The story their representative told was simply too inconsistent with the facts to convince the Court.  Thus they were denied a §165 deduction when they sold the home for a loss.

Firefly

This week’s lesson is similar.  In Edward G. Kurdziel, Jr. v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2019-20 (Judge Holmes), the taxpayer bought a plane, restored it, and flew it around the country. That's him flying his plane in the picture.  Here's a video!  What fun!

Oh, and he also took deductions for depreciation and ongoing expenses that far, far, far exceeded income from the plane.  He offset those losses against his hefty airline pilot salary.  The IRS eventually audited and disallowed the losses under the hobby loss rules.  So the taxpayer tried to sell the Tax Court on a story of profit-making activity.  In his usual airy, pun-filled, style, Judge Holmes explained why the taxpayer’s story didn’t fly.  Peter Reilly calls this the coolest hobby loss case ever.  He has a nice summary of the case on his Forbes blog.  What I see in the case is a lesson about storytelling.  One big reason the taxpayer lost here is because he told conflicting stories to different tax authorities.  Telling one story to your local tax authorities and another story to the IRS is, ultimately, not a successful tax reduction strategy.   You are trying to fool one of them.  I thought this was a particularly apropos lesson for today, April 1.  You will find the interesting details, with pictures of the crash (Mr. K was unhurt), below the fold.  If that's not click-bait, I don't know what is.  Who can resist seeing pictures of a crash? 

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April 1, 2019 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Top Five New Tax Papers

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

  1. [359 Downloads]  A Constitutional Wealth Tax, by Ari Glogower (Ohio State) (reviewed by Hayes Holderness (Richmond) here)
  2. [201 Downloads]  Tax Wars: The Battle over Taxing Global Digital Commerce, by Art Cockfied (Queen's)
  3. [200 Downloads]  Basis of Grantor Trust Assets Before the Grantor's Death, by Jeffrey Pennell (Emory)
  4. [163 Downloads]  The Marriage of Artificial Intelligence and Tax Law: Past, Present, and Future, by Blazej Kuzniacki (Ministry of Finance, Poland)
  5. [147 Downloads]  How The Netherlands Became a Tax Haven for Multinationals, by Jan Vleggeert (Leiden) & Henk Vording (Leiden)

March 31, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 30, 2019

National Tax Association Issues Call For Papers: 112th Annual Conference On Taxation

National Tax Association (2016)The National Tax Association has issued a Call for Papers for its 112th Annual Conference on Taxation in Tampa on November 21-23, 2019:

The 112th Annual Conference on Taxation will cover a broad range of topics including, but not limited to, taxation and tax policies; expenditure policies; government budgeting; intergovernmental fiscal relations; and subnational, national, and international public finance. The conference will focus, as always, on policy-relevant research bearing on taxation and government spending. Submissions from the fields of accounting, economics, law, public policy, and tax administration are encouraged.

You are invited to submit the following: individual papers to be integrated into sessions, proposals for complete sessions of papers, and proposals for panel discussions. The submission deadline is June 1, 2019. Decisions concerning the inclusion of papers and sessions will be announced in July 2019. All presenters, including members of panel discussions, must then register and pay a conference registration fee.

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

Friday, March 29, 2019

Faulhaber Presents Who Decides What Tax Practices Are Harmful? Today At Boston College

Faulhaber (2017)Lily Faulhaber (Georgetown) presents Competing Over Competition: Who Decides What Tax Practices Are Harmful? at Boston College today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Jim Repetti, Diane Ring, and Shu-Yi Oei:

In 1998, the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development both established bodies intended to curtail harmful tax competition. This Article argues that the past twenty years have shown the challenges inherent in having two separate international bodies working separately on the same project.

This Article outlines the work of both bodies in order to identify the differences between them. These differences include differences in membership, differences in the ways the bodies define harmful tax competition, and differences in the scope of their work, all of which can lead to different outcomes. Concerns about these different outcomes can in turn lead to one body setting the agenda or timetable for the other, despite their different members and concerns.

In an earlier article, I identified the “Luxembourg effect,” by which the involvement of EU Member States in international organizations can leads to the recommendations of these organizations being constrained by EU law, even when many of the organizations’ members are not EU Member States. This Article illustrates a different effect, where EU institutions are shaping the agendas of other organizations and undermining what is being done at an international level.

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

Narotzki Presents Code Section 304: The Gift That Keeps on Giving Today At Florida

Florida Logo (2017)Doron Narotzki (Akron) presents Code Section 304: The Gift That Keeps on Giving at Florida today as part of its Tax Colloquium Series:

One central focus of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was to encourage U.S. international firms to “bring back earning to the U.S.” In an attempt to achieve this goal, the legislation enacted new Code Section 245A, which provides for a 100% dividend received deduction (DRD) to U.S. corporations for certain foreign-sourced dividend distributions. Code Section 304 requires the reclassification of stock sales between affiliated corporations as dividends. However, for many years, Code Section 304 was not fulfilling the original “antiavoidance” tax policy that was behind its legislation, as is explained in this paper. Currently, the TCJA has created a unique opportunity to utilize Code Section 304 and Code Section 245A via a much more powerful tax-planning tool.

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

National Tax Association Hosts 49th Annual Spring Symposium On Certain Uncertainty: Tax Policy In Unsettled Times

National Tax Association (2016)The National Tax Association hosts its 49th Annual Spring Symposium on Certain Uncertainty: Tax Policy in Unsettled Times in Washington, D.C. on May 16-17, 2019:

This year’s conference will examine the pervasive role of uncertainty in the economy and how it affects public policy. We will explore this topic in a plenary session, as well as in sessions that cover unfunded liabilities, international tax reform, modeling practices, alternative revenue sources, state and local taxes, and digital taxation.

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

Retroactive State Tax Statutes Revisit United States v. Carlton

Michael T. Fatale (Massachusetts Department of Revenue), Connecting the Dot: Retroactive State Tax Statutes Revisit United States v. Carlton, 86 U. Cin. L. Rev. 33 (2018):

This article evaluates recent state cases upholding a retroactive amendment of a tax statute that reversed a judicial interpretation of the predecessor statute. Practitioners have criticized these cases because the seeming length of the statute’s retroactivity has typically been lengthy. The practitioners’ claim has been that the amendments violate the test for due process that applies to a retroactive tax statute, as stated in the Supreme Court case, United States v. Carlton, 512 U.S. 26 (1994). Since Carlton evaluated different circumstances, practitioners also urge that Carlton should be reconsidered.

This article focuses on Dot Foods, Inc. v. Dep’t of Revenue, 372 P.3d 747 (Wash. 2016), cert. denied, 137 S. Ct. 2156 (2017), which upheld retroactive legislation that amended a tax statute dating back 27 years.

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

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Kamin Presents The Tax Rate Ratchet Today At Duke

Kamin (2018)David Kamin (NYU) presents The Tax Rate Ratchet (with Ari Glogower (Ohio State)) at Duke today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

The 2017 tax legislation introduced significant preferences for business income and ushered in a new conversation on tax reform. The legislation cut the corporate rate and introduced the new Section 199A deduction for “pass-through” income. Many commentators criticized the design of the pass-through deduction and the legislation’s generally regressive effects but tacitly accepted or applauded the corporate rate cut as desirable response to international pressures. Then in early 2019, recently elected Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez initiated a separate debate on progressive tax reform, by proposing a 70% top individual rate on taxpayers with the highest incomes. Leading progressive thinkers defended the proposal, arguing that a higher rate in this range would maximize revenues from those at the top of the income distribution and address economic inequality.

This Article bridges these conversations on the 2017 legislation’s new preferences for business income and the future of progressive tax reform,and introduces a theoretical framework for understanding their interaction.

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

Colinvaux: A Vision For Charitable Giving And Reform

Roger Colinvaux (Catholic), Fixing Philanthropy: A Vision for Charitable Giving and Reform, 162 Tax Notes 1007 (Mar. 4, 2019):

The article explains how Congress can advance the goals and values of philanthropy and address the crisis of the charitable sector with a number of legislative initiatives. These include expansion of the charitable giving incentive, reform of in-kind contributions, getting more money to working charities with a payout rule for donor advised funds (DAFs), and changing standards for private foundation transfers to DAFs.

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

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN Logo (2018)SSRN has updated its monthly ranking 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 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 March 1, 2019) 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.)

182,983

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

23,702

2

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

117,556

Daniel Hemel (Chicago)

21,322

3

David Gamage (Indiana-Bl.)

113,062

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

17,876

4

Daniel Hemel (Chicago)

110,952

David Gamage (Indiana-Bl.)

17,648

5

Lily Batchelder (NYU)

110,874

Darien Shanske (UC-Davis) 

17,588

6

Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)

107,140

Manoj Viswanathan (Hastings)

16,838

7

Cliff Fleming (BYU)

102,619

David Kamin (NYU)

15,561

8

Manoj Viswanathan (Hastings)

99,411

Ari Glogower (Ohio State)

15,512

9

David Kamin (NYU)

99,361

Lily Batchelder (NYU)

15,405

10

Rebecca Kysar (Fordham)

98,660

Cliff Fleming (BYU)

15,229

11

Ari Glogower (Ohio State)

97,315

Rebecca Kysar (Fordham) 

15,151

12

Michael Simkovic (USC)

42,181

Richard Ainsworth (BU) 3,618

13

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

36,283

Michael Simkovic (USC)

3,184

14

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

35,147

Jacob Goldin (Stanford)

2,850

15

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

30,929

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

2,793

16

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

27,000

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

2,633

17

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

25,502

Kyle Rozema (Chicago)

2,520

18

Vic Fleischer (UC-Irvine)

25,269

Joe Bankman (Stanford)

2,506

19

Jim Hines (Michigan)

24,218

Ruth Mason (Virginia)

2,445

20

Gladriel Shobe (BYU)

23,920

Kirk Stark (UCLA)

2,263

21

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

23,286

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

2,154

22

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

23,217

Hugh Ault (Boston College)

1,969

23

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

22,216

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

1,862

24

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

21,829

Margaret Ryznar (Indiana-Indy)

1,791

25

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

21,806

Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)

1,669

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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March 28, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Mayer: Taming The Wild West Of Nonprofit Political Involvement

Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer (Notre Dame), When Soft Law Meets Hard Politics: Taming the Wild West of Nonprofit Political Involvement, 45 J. Legis. ___ (2019):

Beginning in the 1990s and continuing to today, many of the legal and psychological barriers to nonprofits becoming involved in electoral politics have fallen. At the same time, political divisions have sharpened, causing candidates, political parties, and their supporters to scramble ever more aggressively for any possible edge in winner-take-all political contests. In the face of these developments, many nonprofits have violated the remaining legal rules applicable to their political activity with little fear of negative consequences, especially given vague rules and a paucity of enforcement resources. Such violations include underreporting of political activity in government filings, fly-by-night organizations that exist only for one election cycle in order to avoid penalties, and even organized campaigns that encourage nonprofits to break these rules. The increasingly visible disregard of these rules threatens not only to damage the public reputation of the nonprofit sector as a whole but also to undermine public respect for the rule of law more generally.

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March 27, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Section 199A: A Magic Dance Through The Labyrinth

Craig W. Benson (Bever Dye, Wichita, KS)), Section 199A: A Magic Dance Through the Labyrinth, 58 Washburn L.J. 187 (2019):

Although frequently pitched to the American people as a leveling agent to keep pass through entities competitive with their C corporation counterparts, section 199A 's twenty-percent deduction is far more restrictive than the simple reduction in the C corporation tax bracket to a flat twenty-one percent rate. Section 199A is a needlessly complex labyrinth filled with ambiguous language that opens the unwary taxpayer to possible missteps and an easier to meet accuracy-related penalty for substantial understatement of tax liability. This article aims to inform small businesses and their advisors on how to navigate the section 199A maze, in a manner that maximizes the deduction for qualified business income and highlights areas of ambiguity, so taxpayers have conscious awareness of such ambiguous areas.

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March 27, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Marian: Is All Corporate Tax Planning Good For Shareholders?

Omri Y. Marian (UC-Irvine), Is All Corporate Tax Planning Good for Shareholders?, 52 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 905 (2018) (reviewed by Ari Glogower (Ohio State) here):

Does corporate tax planning benefit shareholders? The prevalent assumption is that it does, because lower corporate tax burden translates to enhanced shareholder value. In this article, I explain why this common perception is sometimes incorrect in practice. In many cases, successful (and legal) corporate tax planning schemes are not Pareto-optimal: some shareholders may see a net benefit, while others experience a net loss. Moreover, in certain instances it is reasonable to expect that legal corporate tax planning will be Kaldor-Hicks inefficient. Meaning, the financial losses incurred by some shareholders exceed the gains to others.

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March 27, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Auten & Splinter Present Using Tax Data To Measure Long-Term Trends In Equality Today At Georgetown

Gerald Auten (Office of Tax Analysis, U.S. Treasury Department) & David Splinter (Joint Committee on Taxation) present Income Inequality in the United States: Using Tax Data to Measure Long-term Trends  at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John Brooks and Lilian Faulhaber:

Using individual tax returns, Piketty and Saez (2003) concluded that the top one percent income share at least doubled since 1960. But these estimates are biased by tax base changes, missing income sources, and major social changes. Piketty, Saez, and Zucman (2018) addressed some of these issues by targeting the distribution of total national income. They concluded that the top one percent share increased by two-thirds since 1960 and doubled since 1980. However, broadening income beyond that reported on tax returns requires specific assumptions to distribute these additional income sources. This paper shows the effects of adjusting for technical tax issues and the sensitivity to alternative assumptions for distributing missing income sources. Our results suggest that recent top income shares are significantly lower and that there has been relatively little change since 1960, though a modest increase since 1980. The most important reason our results differ from Piketty, Saez, and Zucman (2018) is our allocation of underreported income according to detailed IRS audit studies rather than proportional to income reported on tax returns.

Auten 1

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March 26, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Hoopes Presents Is Tax Planning Best Done In Private? Today At NYU

HoopesJeffrey Hoopes (North Carolina) presents Is Tax Planning Best Done in Private? at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Lily Batchelder and Daniel Shaviro:

We investigate the conventional wisdom that privately-held firms engage in more tax planning than do publicly-held firms. Private firms are believed to face lower nontax costs of tax planning relative to public firms, allowing them to engage in more tax planning. However, empirical evidence of U.S. private firm tax planning is limited, primarily because of difficulty in obtaining private firm data. We make use of detailed administrative data from the Internal Revenue Service, which covers virtually all U.S. public and private firms. Using a variety of tax planning measures, and contrary to conventional wisdom, we find no evidence that private firms engage in more tax planning relative to similar-sized public firms in the same industry.

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March 26, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 25, 2019

Blank Presents Simplexity And Legal Calculators Today At Pepperdine

Blank (2018)Joshua Blank (UC-Irvine) presents Simplexity and Legal Calculators (with Leigh Osofsky (North Carolina)) at Pepperdine today as part of our Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Dorothy Brown and Paul Caron and funded in part by a generous gift from Scott Racine:

Automated customer service has become one of the primary ways in which consumers find answers to their questions, whether they involve airline reservations, medical insurance coverage or unresponsive home appliances. Federal and state tax authorities have increasingly begun to offer online decision-making tools that provide guidance regarding the tax law to taxpayers. Some online tools, such as the IRS’s “Withholding Calculator,” direct taxpayers to input wage information in order to receive confirmation of whether their tax withholding is adequate. More comprehensive online tools, such as the IRS’s “Interactive Tax Assistant,” ask taxpayers personal questions and then deliver answers on topics ranging from whether the taxpayer is required to file a tax return to whether the taxpayer is entitled to claim certain tax credits to whether a type of income is taxable. These online tools do not just perform mathematical calculations; rather, they attempt to calculate taxpayers’ legal consequences.

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

Connecting Law Students' Goals To Lawyer Competency

Neil W. Hamilton (St. Thomas), Connecting Prospective Law Students’ Goals to the Competencies that Clients and Legal Employers Need to Achieve More Competent Graduates and Stronger Applicant Pools and Employment Outcomes, 9 St. Mary’s J. Legal Mal. & Ethics ___ (2019):

In changing markets for clients and legal employers, law schools that most effectively connect the goals of prospective and enrolled law students to the competencies that clients and legal employers need will be successful. Over time, a school that creates this type of effective bridge will benefit from a reputation both among legal employers and clients for educating highly effective graduates and among prospective students for helping them achieve their goals. All stakeholders benefit, but for faculty, stronger applicant pools and strong post-graduation employment outcomes in particular contribute greatly to the quality of the students and the school’s ranking and financial stability.

This article is the first to help faculty and staff make use of new data on the goals of undergraduate students considering law school and enrolled law student, the competencies that clients and legal employers want, and the learning outcomes that the law schools are adopting to design a more effective curriculum to help all the stakeholders to reach their goals.

Neil 1

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March 25, 2019 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Virginia Tax Review Publishes New Issue

Virginia Tax Review (2016)The Virginia Tax Review has published Vol. 38, No. 2 (Fall 2018):

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

Ellen Aprill Reviews Philip Hamburger’s Liberal Suppression: Section 501(c)(3) And The Taxation Of Speech

Liberal SuppressionFollowing up on my previous post:  Ellen Aprill (Loyola-L.A.), Liberal Suppression: Viewing Section 501(C)(3)’S Speech Restrictions In Their Tax Context (reviewing Philip Hamburger (Columbia), Liberal Suppression: Section 501(c)(3) and the Taxation of Speech (University of Chicago Press 2018)):

Philip Hamburger’s Liberal Suppression: Section 501(c)(3) and the Taxation of Speech opposes on constitutional grounds the limitation on lobbying and the prohibition of campaign intervention required of charities, including churches, exempt under the Internal Revenue Code. The book is erudite, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. I learned a great deal from it. I also share a number of the author’s concerns. As a tax professor, naturally enough, I see these issues primarily through a tax lens, and this context leads me to draw conclusions regarding section 501(c)(3) quite different from those Hamburger comes to as a constitutional scholar. Yet I also believe that establishing a common understanding of the provision’s place in the Internal Revenue Code is crucial to any critique of it.

Language from Regan v Taxation with Representation (TWR), the 1983 case to which the book often refers, helps frame the contrast between our points of view. Against constitutional challenge, the Supreme Court in TWR upheld the limitation on substantial lobbying for entities exempt under section 501(c)(3) against constitutional challenge. Professor Hamburger’s book, my earlier work, and that of others have extended its reasoning, in particular its reliance on the principle that Congress has no duty to subsidize political activity, to section 501(c)(3)’s prohibition on campaign intervention as well. ...

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March 25, 2019 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lesson From The Tax Court: Nothing Personal

Tax Court (2017)The Tax Code is built on a dichotomy between business and personal.  That is one of the ideas that runs throughout each semester of my basic tax class.  Whether a taxpayer is entitled to deduct an item of expense depends on whether the Code classifies the expense as business or personal.  In one box go expenditures needed to carry on an activity engaged in for profit.  Section 162 allows taxpayers to deduct the money it takes to make money.  In another box go expenditures made for personal consumption.  Section 262 disallows a deduction for such expenses.  One finds the same dichotomy in §165, which permits taxpayers to deduct business losses, but not non-business losses.

Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish business from personal.  In life, the difference is not a dichotomy but a continuum with expenditures often made for mixed purposes.  Still, taxpayer activity falls into either the deductible box or the non-deductible box.  There is no in-between.  The expense (or loss) is deductible or it’s not.  Congress helps taxpayers figure out into which box they fall with various statues.  Treasury helps them with various regulations.  And courts help with decisions like two Tax Court decisions from last week. 

Last week the Tax Court issued two opinions that teach lessons about distinguishing business activity from personal activity.  First, Carlos Langston and Pamela Langston v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2019-19 (Judge Nega) presents a really nice twist on the classic problem of how to tell when a taxpayer has converted a personal residence into an income-producing property.  There, the taxpayer's actual rental was not sufficient to convert a property formerly used as a personal residence into a property held for the production of income.  That surprised me.  Second, Edward G. Kurdzeil, Jr. v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2019-20 (Judge Holmes) concerns whether a taxpayer’s very expensive plane restoration activity was a business or a hobby.   I will blog Langston this week and Kurdziel next week. 

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March 25, 2019 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Incoming Batch Of Law Deans Is More Diverse Than Ever; New Women, Minority Deans Exceed New White Male Deans

National Law Journal, Incoming Batch of Law Deans Is More Diverse Than Ever:

The wave of minority women taking the helm at law schools is gaining momentum.

Two law schools in the past week have named black women as dean. Stetson University College of Law has tapped Michele Alexandre to be its next top administrator—the first African-American to fill that role. On Wednesday, the University of Cincinnati announced that Verna Williams was being elevated from interim dean to full dean. She, too, will be the school’s first black dean. Those appointments add to what is already shaping up to be a diverse crop of incoming deans.

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March 24, 2019 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

4th National People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference: People Of Color And The Future Of Democracy

NPOCAmerican University Washington College of Law, 4th National People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference: People of Color and the Future of Democracy:

Tax Reform Gone Wrong: The High Cost of Trump Tax Cuts for People of Color:
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, also known as #TrumpTaxCuts, made sweeping changes to our tax laws. Far from addressing, fixing, or improving institutional racism in the tax code that financially disadvantages people of color, the new law strengthened some of these provisions and even added new ones. The panel of tax scholars will deconstruct and discuss these changes and suggest how we might move forward.

  • Darrick Hamilton (The New School)
  • Randall Johnson (Mississippi College)
  • Christine Kim (Utah) (moderator)
  • Francine Lipman (UNLV)
  • Goldburn Maynard (Louisville)

Tax Policy and Social Justice
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was advertised as a means to reduce taxes on average for all income groups in both 2018 and 2025. However, the Tax Policy Center issued a statement indicating the TCJA favored tax breaks for businesses over people. Other studies suggest that the TCJA exacerbates longstanding patterns of wealth inequity among individuals, particularly with regard to racial identity. Economic justice, which touches the individual person as well as the social order, nationally and internationally, encompasses the moral principles which guide us in designing our economic institutions seems to make an exception for tax policy. The ultimate purpose of economic justice is to free each person to engage creatively in the unlimited work beyond economics, that of the mind and the spirit. When the system provides disproportionate resources to taxpayer of high economic means without commensurate resources to the middle and lower income taxpayers, society continues to experience widening wealth gaps that may have global effects. This panel proposal seeks to offer engaging research and discussion of tax policies and the global economic consequences we face as we continue to allow tax policy to promote and disproportionately serve the few.

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March 24, 2019 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

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

  1. [345 Downloads]  A Constitutional Wealth Tax, by Ari Glogower (Ohio State)
  2. [192 Downloads]  Basis of Grantor Trust Assets Before the Grantor's Death, by Jeffrey Pennell (Emory)
  3. [188 Downloads]  Tax Wars: The Battle over Taxing Global Digital Commerce, by Art Cockfied (Queen's)
  4. [152 Downloads]  The Marriage of Artificial Intelligence and Tax Law: Past, Present, and Future, by Blazej Kuzniacki (Ministry of Finance, Poland)
  5. [122 Downloads]  Inequality Snowballing, by Zachary D. Liscow (Yale) & Daniel Giraldo Paez (Yale)

March 24, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, March 23, 2019

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Ohio State Symposium: Artificial Intelligence And The Future Of Tax Law

Ohio State LogoOhio State hosted a symposium yesterday on Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Tax Law and Policy (program):

Artificial intelligence and automated systems have the potential to rework everything we think about labor, leisure, and our economic future. But ideas about how to integrate these non-human actors into the tax system are only beginning to emerge. This year’s symposium, Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Tax Law and Policy, will begin a robust policy discussion on the intersection of these developing technologies and tax law in the new digital economy. Some of the country’s foremost experts in tax and the digital economy will discuss how to write laws that robots can read, whether robots can or should be taxpayers, how AI will affect enforcement and compliance, and what the broader economic picture means for tax law and labor.

Panel #1: Writing Laws that Robots Can Read

  • Joshua Blank (UC-Irvine)
  • Allison Christians (McGill)
  • Sarah Lawsky (Northwestern)
  • Leigh Osofsky (North Carolina)

Panel #2: Taxing Robots

  • Stephanie Hoffer (Ohio State)
  • Robert Kovacev (Norton, Rose, Fulbright)

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March 23, 2019 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 22, 2019

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Kleiman Reviews Morse's When Robots Make Legal Mistakes

This week, Ariel Jurow Kleiman (San Diego) reviews a new work by Susan C. Morse (Texas), When Robots Make Legal Mistakes, 71 Okla. L. Rev. ___ (2019), and a contribution to Symposium, Lawyering in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

StevensonRobots are all around us.  As we mere humans struggle with basic tasks, robots are churning through documents, making legal decisions, and administering public and private programs.  Due to their ubiquity in legal processes, the patterns they manifest may significantly alter the course of legal development.  Susan Morse, in her recent work on the topic, begins to unpack these patterns, exploring the incentives robots face when making legal decisions.  Specifically, Morse argues that robots tend to follow the path of least resistance, favoring legal decisions that are less likely to be challenged.  In doing so, these artificial agents shift the trajectory of laws’ development, although in what direction it is too early to say.

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March 22, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thomas Presents The Modern Case For Withholding Today At Florida

Thomas (2017)Kathleen Delaney Thomas (North Carolina) presents The Modern Case for Withholding, 53 U.C. Davis L. Rev. ___ (2019), at Florida today as part of its Tax Colloquium Series:

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 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. Second, the rise of the Internet and other advances in technology has made withholding by third parties more efficient and less costly than was historically the case. Finally, 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. 

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March 22, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tulane Hosts 9th Annual Tax Roundtable Today

Tulane (2015)Tulane hosts its 9th Annual Tax Roundtable today:

The Tulane Tax Roundtable brings together tax scholars from around the country, resident Tulane Faculty, and Tulane students for discussion and debate about important tax policy issues of our time. The roundtable showcases the drafts and works-in-progress of its participants and subjects these works to rigorous analysis in a discussant-driven workshop format.

9:00 am:  Manoj Viswanathan (UC Hastings), Hyperlocal Responses to the SALT Deduction Limitation, 71 Stan. L. Rev. Online ___ (2019)
Discussant: Steven Sheffrin (Tulane)

9:45 am:  Miranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego), A New Look at Old Money: Taxing Second Generation Wealth 
Discussant: Diane Ring (Boston College)

10:45 am:  Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College), Legislation and Comment: The Making Of the § 199A Regulations (with Leigh Osofsky (North Carolina))
Discussant: Zachary Liscow (Yale)

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March 22, 2019 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trier Delivers Lecture On Entity Taxation In The 2017 Tax Act At Temple

TrierDana Trier (Davis Polk) delivered the 2019 Frank & Rose Fogel Lecture at Temple yesterday on Entity Taxation in the 2017 Legislation: Process and Policy:

The 2017 tax legislation was shaped not only by the policy objectives that animated it but also by the unusual process that produced it. As Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy in the U.S. Treasury, Mr. Trier participated in the production of that legislation and will offer his thoughts on the forces that shaped the tax law that we have today, focusing on specific provisions, such as the so-called “pass-through deduction” that has dramatically changed the taxation of some personal service income. Mr. Trier has now returned to private practice and is Counsel at Davis Polk and Wardwell in New York City.

March 22, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Fox Presents Sharp Lines And Sliding Scales In Tax Law Today At Duke

FoxEdward Fox (Michigan) presents Sharp Lines And Sliding Scales In Tax Law (with Jacob Goldin (Stanford)) at Duke today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

The law is full of sharp lines, where small changes in one’s circumstances lead to significant changes in legal treatment. In many cases, a sharp line can be smoothed out by replacing it with a sliding scale. Under a sliding scale, small changes in one’s circumstances lead to small changes in legal treatment. In this paper, we study the policy choice between sharp lines and sliding scales in tax law, focusing particularly on concerns related to efficiency, complexity, and administration. Sharp lines are dominant in tax law, especially for classifications that depend on factors other income. We argue that this dominance is unwarranted; sliding scales are often feasible in practice and better serve a variety of tax policy goals. We illustrate our claims with examples drawn from diverse areas of tax law.

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March 21, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Faulhaber Presents Who Decides What Tax Practices Are Harmful? Today At Indiana

Faulhaber (2017)Lily Faulhaber (Georgetown) presents Competing Over Competition: Who Decides What Tax Practices Are Harmful? at Indiana today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by David Gamage:

In 1998, the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development both established bodies intended to curtail harmful tax competition. This Article argues that the past twenty years have shown the challenges inherent in having two separate international bodies working separately on the same project.

This Article outlines the work of both bodies in order to identify the differences between them. These differences include differences in membership, differences in the ways the bodies define harmful tax competition, and differences in the scope of their work, all of which can lead to different outcomes. Concerns about these different outcomes can in turn lead to one body setting the agenda or timetable for the other, despite their different members and concerns.

In an earlier article, I identified the “Luxembourg effect,” by which the involvement of EU Member States in international organizations can leads to the recommendations of these organizations being constrained by EU law, even when many of the organizations’ members are not EU Member States. This Article illustrates a different effect, where EU institutions are shaping the agendas of other organizations and undermining what is being done at an international level.

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March 21, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wilking Presents Shifting Tax Remittance Obligation From Rentors To Airbnb Increases Rental Prices Today At UCLA

WilkingEleanor Wilking (NYU) presents Tax Incidence with Heterogeneous Firm Evasion: Evidence from Airbnb Remittance Agreements at UCLA today as part of its Colloquium on Tax Policy and Public Finance hosted by Kirk Stark and Jason Oh:

How does assignment of the remittance obligation affect consumption tax incidence? In classical tax theory, the responsibility of transferring tax revenue has no effect on which party bears the economic burden of a consumption tax. I explore this prediction in the context of agreements between city governments and a large digital platform firm that shifted the obligation to remit hotel taxes from independent rentors to the platform firm itself. Using variation in the location and timing of such agreements, I estimate their effect on rental prices. My results indicate that shifting the remittance obligation to the platform increases after-tax prices, suggesting that consumers bear a greater share of the tax burden when the remittance obligation is shifted to a party with fewer evasion opportunities.

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March 20, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morse: When Robots Make Legal Mistakes

Susan C. Morse (Texas), When Robots Make Legal Mistakes, 71 Okla. L. Rev. ___ (2019):

The questions presented by robots’ legal mistakes are familiar to legal scholarship because they are examples of the legal process inquiry described by Hart and Sacks. This inquiry asks when the law will accept decisions as final, even if they are mistaken. Legal decision-making robots include market robots and government robots. In either category, they can make mistakes of undercompliance or overcompliance.

Some robot mistakes are more reviewable than others. The least reviewable kind of mistake is a market robot’s overcompliance mistake. A government robot’s undercompliance mistake is also relatively unlikely to be challenged. On the other hand, a market robot’s undercompliance mistake is open to a government enforcement challenge, and a government robot’s overcompliance mistake is open to a challenge from an aggrieved regulated party.

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March 20, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Glogower Presents The Tax Rate Ratchet Today At Georgetown

Glogower (2016)Ari Glogower (Ohio State) presents The Tax Rate Ratchet (with David Kamin (NYU)) at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John Brooks and Lilian Faulhaber:

The 2017 tax legislation introduced significant preferences for business income and ushered in a new conversation on tax reform. The legislation cut the corporate rate and introduced the new Section 199A deduction for “pass-through” income. Many commentators criticized the design of the pass-through deduction and the legislation’s generally regressive effects but tacitly accepted or applauded the corporate rate cut as desirable response to international pressures. Then in early 2019, recently elected Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez initiated a separate debate on progressive tax reform, by proposing a 70% top individual rate on taxpayers with the highest incomes. Leading progressive thinkers defended the proposal, arguing that a higher rate in this range would maximize revenues from those at the top of the income distribution and address economic inequality.

This Article bridges these conversations on the 2017 legislation’s new preferences for business income and the future of progressive tax reform,and introduces a theoretical framework for understanding their interaction.

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March 19, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Rankings: Incentives, Culture, And Change In Legal Education

U.S. News Law (2019)Caleb N. Griffin (Regent), Incentives, Culture, and Change in American Legal Education, 87 U. Cin. L. Rev. 325 (2018):

In theory, law school rankings merely describe law schools as they are, providing basic details about each school that may be relevant to prospective law students. In practice, however, law school rankings have a tremendous influence on law students and the legal profession. For better or for worse, the rank of a given student’s school will often have a substantial impact on the arc of his or her legal career.

Rankings also have a tremendous influence on law schools themselves. One source of this influence is that a high ranking draws strong candidates, and strong candidates reinforce the high ranking. This phenomenon of self-reinforcement has the effect of cementing law schools in a relatively static position and obscuring important changes relevant to prospective students and legal employers.

But is this a problem? The status quo might be acceptable if law school rankings were based solely on objective data that measured factors in a way that was truly reflective of the needs of students, legal employers, and society at large. Such an ideal ranking would provide a useful service for prospective students, and it would incentivize law schools to engage in socially beneficial behavior.

This Article sets out to explore what factors ought to be used in an ideal ranking system.

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March 19, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Book: Giving Taxpayer Rights A Seat At The Table

Leslie Book (Villanova), Giving Taxpayer Rights a Seat at the Table:

How can Congress’ codifying the taxpayer bill of rights make a meaningful difference for tax administration? This is a question that will likely confront academics, policymakers and judges in the next few years. In late 2015, Congress codified the rights that the Internal Revenue Service administratively adopted in 2014, explicitly requiring that the Commissioner ensure that IRS employees receive training and act in accord with them. A recent article by Professors Alice Abreu and Richard Greenstein refers to the codification of TBOR having the power to “transform the tax practice and the relationship between taxpayers and the IRS.” Yet the statute itself is silent on the practical effect of IRS violations of any of the rights and fails to include a specific remedy or enforcement mechanism when the IRS acts inconsistently with or violates those rights. In Facebook v IRS, a federal district court concluded that at least with respect to one of the enumerated taxpayer rights (the right to appeal a decision in an independent forum), the right is not enforceable by taxpayers. This development highlights a central weakness in the current law, namely that there is no formal way to ensure that IRS employees act consistently with or even consider taxpayer rights. In this essay I propose a way to change this shortcoming.

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March 19, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Digital Pro Bono: Leveraging Technology To Provide Access To Justice

Kathleen Elliott Vinson (Suffolk) & Samantha A. Moppett (Suffolk), Digital Pro Bono: Leveraging Technology to Provide Access to Justice, 92 St. John's L. Rev. 551 (2018):

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Sound familiar? Although we pledge this when we stand in front of the American flag, hands over our hearts, all people do not have access to justice in the United States. While individuals have the constitutional right to legal assistance in criminal cases, the same does not hold true for civil matters. Low-income Americans are unable to gain access to meaningful help for basic legal needs. Although legal aid organizations exist to help low-income Americans who cannot afford legal representation, the resources available are insufficient to meet current civil legal needs. Studies show more than 80 percent of the legal needs of low-income Americans go unaddressed every year.

This article examines how law students, law schools, the legal profession, legal services' agencies, and low-income individuals who need assistance, all have a shared interest—access to justice—and can work together to reach the elusive goal in the Pledge of Allegiance of "justice for all."

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March 19, 2019 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Law School Rankings By Attractiveness To Students (25/50/75 LSAT/UGPA, Transfers In/Out)

CJ Ryan (Roger Williams) & Brian L. Frye (Kentucky), The 2019 Revealed-Preferences Ranking of Law Schools:

In 2017, we published A Revealed-Preferences Ranking of Law Schools, which presented the first (intentionally) objective ranking of law schools. Other law school rankings are subjective because their purpose is to tell prospective law students where to matriculate. Our “revealed-preferences” ranking is objective because its purpose is to ask where prospective law students actually choose to matriculate. In other words, subjective rankings tell students what they should want, but our objective ranking reveals what students actually want. These rankings were originally based on an average of the previous five-years of LSAT and GPA quartile and median averages for law schools. We updated these rankings with a 2018 ranking that focused exclusively on the 75th, median, and 25th quartiles of each of these measures for the entering class in Fall 2017. We have modified our rankings yet again to evaluate law schools based not only on their success at matriculating the most desirable first year law students, but also on their success at retaining those students and attracting transfer students.

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March 18, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Lesson From The Tax Court: Form 2848 Does Not Change Your Address

Tax Court (2017)Generally, it’s nice to be noticed.  Tomorrow is my 24th wedding anniversary and I remain truly grateful that my wife noticed me one day long ago at a contra dance at Glen Echo.  That notice continues to this day, fully reciprocated. 

But sometimes it’s not so nice, such as when the notice comes from the IRS.  And when Congress wants the IRS to “notice” taxpayers (pun intended), it generally requires the IRS to send that notice to their last known address. 

The last known address rule is critical to learn.  Congress puts that rule in about 20 different statutes, helpfully listed in Rev. Proc. 2010-16.  The governing regulation generally allows the IRS to comply with the rule by using the address in its Master File database.  There are some exceptions.  In a blog last November, I discussed one exception: certain events can trigger an IRS duty of due diligence to go beyond the address in its database. 

Last week the Tax Court taught us about another exception in Damian K. Gregory and Shayla A. Gregory v. Commissioner, 152 T.C. No. 7 (Mar. 13, 2019) (Judge Buch).  There, Tax Court let us know, in a fully reviewed opinion, that a Power of Attorney (Form 2848) does not have the legal effect of telling the IRS that a taxpayer has changed their official address of record.  This is important because, as long-time practitioners know, Form 2848 used to work for that purpose (albeit as a backstop).  Time to unlearn that old lesson!  Details below the fold.

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March 18, 2019 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink | Comments (5)

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Can Christian Conservatives Transform Law Through Legal Education?

ALRJoshua C. Wilson (Denver) & Amanda Hollis‐Brusky (Pomona), Higher Law: Can Christian Conservatives Transform Law Through Legal Education?, 52 Law & Soc'y Rev. 835 (2018) (more here):

The allure of law schools as transformative institutions in the United States prompted Christian Right leaders to invest in legal education in the 1990s and early 2000s. The aspiration was to control the training of lawyers in order to challenge the secular legal monopoly on law, policy, and culture. In this article, we examine three leading Christian conservative law schools [Ave Maria, Liberty, Regent] and one training program [Blackstone] dedicated to transforming the law. We ask how each institution seeks to realize its transformative mission and analyze how they organize themselves to produce the kinds of capital (human, intellectual, social, cultural) needed to effectively change the law. To do so, we develop a typology of legal institution‐building strategies (infiltration, supplemental, and parallel alternative) to compare the relative advantages and disadvantages of institutional forms.

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March 17, 2019 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

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

  1. [502 Downloads]  Ten Reasons to Prefer Tax Partnerships Over S-Corporations, by Bradley Borden (Brooklyn)
  2. [338 Downloads]  A Constitutional Wealth Tax, by Ari Glogower (Ohio State)
  3. [186 Downloads]  Basis of Grantor Trust Assets Before the Grantor's Death, by Jeffrey Pennell (Emory)
  4. [169 Downloads]  Tax Wars: The Battle over Taxing Global Digital Commerce, by Art Cockfied (Queen's)
  5. [138 Downloads]  The Marriage of Artificial Intelligence and Tax Law: Past, Present, and Future, by Blazej Kuzniacki (Ministry of Finance, Poland)

March 17, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Apollo 13 And The Importance Of Time-Pressured Performance Tests In Preparing Law Students For The Bar Exam (And Practice)

Apollo 13 3Kathleen Elliott Vinson (Suffolk) & Sabrina DeFabritiis (Suffolk), Under Pressure: How Incorporating Time-Pressured Performance Tests Prepares Students for the Bar Exam and Practice, 122 W. Va. L. Rev. ___ (2019):

“Houston, we have a problem.” In 1970, an explosion on board the Apollo 13 spacecraft’s flight to the moon damaged the air filtration system, causing carbon monoxide to build up in the cabin. The astronauts on board would be dead in mere hours if the system could not be fixed or replaced. NASA’s Mission Control in Houston, Texas called for engineers, scientists, and technicians to work with a set of materials identical to those on the spacecraft to build a filtration system under extreme time pressure. The result may have been ugly, inelegant, and far from perfect, but it saved the astronauts’ life. The Apollo 13 situation may be a dramatic example of problem solving, creativity, and completing a task under extreme time pressure with life or death consequences; however, lawyers also work in stressful environments, under time pressure, while juggling multiple tasks involving life, liberty, or millions of dollars. How do recent law school graduates perform when facing a time-sensitive task when the stakes are high, when they are accustomed from law school of having several weeks or more, with feedback along the way, to complete that type of assignment?

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March 16, 2019 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, March 15, 2019

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Elkins Reviews Fleischer, Hemel & Leff On A Universal Basic Income

This week, David Elkins (Netanya) reviews new works by Miranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego) & Daniel Hemel (Chicago), The Architecture of Basic Income, 86 U. Chi. L. Rev. ___ (2019) and Benjamin M. Leff (American), EITC for All: A Universal Basic Income Compromise Proposal, 25 Wash. & Lee J. Rts. & Soc. Just. __ (2019):

Elkins (2018)This week saw the posting of two articles discussing the concept of universal basic income (“UBI”). It is interesting to compare and contrast two proposals for what is likely to be a focus of academic and political attention in the near future.

At the most fundamental level, the two articles take different tacks by their choice of how conceptually to integrate UBI into the current tax framework. Fleischer and Hemel compare UBI to a negative income tax. They demonstrate it that the difference between them is merely one of framing: a UBI financed by a progressive income is functionally equivalent to a negative income tax. One significant difference is that the negative income tax – like the positive income tax – is calculated on the family level, whereas UBI is calculated on the individual level. Fleischer and Hemel argue that a cash grant to each citizen and lawful permanent resident, regardless of age, would better serve the goals of reducing poverty that would a payment to families.

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March 15, 2019 in David Elkins, Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)