Paul L. Caron
Dean




Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Mazur Presents Can Blockchain Revolutionize Tax Administration? Today At San Diego

Orly Mazur (SMU; Google Scholar) presents Can Blockchain Revolutionize Tax Administration? (reviewed by Sloan Speck (Colorado; Google Scholar) here) at San Diego today as part of its Tax Law Speaker Series hosted by Miranda Fleischer:

Mazur-OrlyExperts predict that the use of smart contracts and other applications of blockchain technology can potentially revolutionize the manner in which we do business. Blockchain promises the elimination of middlemen, as well as trust, transparency, and improved access to shared information and records. Thus, it is no surprise that companies and entrepreneurs are now developing blockchain solutions for an array of markets, ranging from real estate to health care. But, can this new technology revolutionize tax administration? Our current tax administration system suffers from a large tax gap, high compliance and administrative costs, and many inefficiencies. Blockchain’s core attributes may present a solution to these shortcomings.

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January 25, 2022 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

The Robotic Revolution: A Tax Policy Collision Course

Kathryn Kisska-Schulze (Clemson) & Rodney P. Mock (California Polytechnic State University), The Robotic Revolution: A Tax Policy Collision Course, 93 Temp. L. Rev. 301 (2021): 

Media projections depict that robotics, process automation, and artificial intelligence threaten human workforce sustainability. Two oft cited studies forecast that technological innovation could jeopardize more than one third of the U.S. workforce. Significant worker displacement would devastate federal funding that is heavily reliant on individual income tax revenue and payroll taxes. Concerns of mass joblessness have led Bill Gates and others to propose a robot tax, with some suggesting a complete reworking of the Internal Revenue Code to address looming predictions.

While these ideas are critical to the robot immersion dialogue, they are largely premised on fear and the proposition that human labor should be protected. As history supports, automation has always threatened the human workforce, which has demonstrated a great propensity for adaptation. As resisting the tractor for fear of replacing farmers’ grit would have been senseless, it is now imprudent to tax innovation for fear of automation substitution. From its inception, the U.S. Constitution has protected innovation and intellectual property. Similarly, the Internal Revenue Code serves to incentivize research and development. Taxing robots would disrupt our nation’s deeply rooted tax policies.

As a matter of astute policy, this Article advances that Congress should not impose a robot tax.

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January 25, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Cowan & Cutler: Cross-Fertilizing The Tax Classroom

Mark J. Cowan (Boise State) & Joshua Cutler (Boise State), Cross-Fertilizing the Tax Classroom, 19 U. Pitt. Tax Rev. ___ (2022):

Pittsburgh Tax Review (2021)Taxation, embedded in both the legal and accounting professions, is taught in law schools and business schools. Courses in the former develop the skills of future tax attorneys, who will engage in tax structuring, document drafting, and litigation. Courses in the latter develop the skills of future CPAs, who will engage in tax compliance. But both lawyers and CPAs do tax research, tax planning, and represent clients on audit. The skills both professionals need and the content they are taught in both schools overlap to a great extent. (Indeed, masters of taxation courses in accounting programs often use law school casebooks.) Because of the overlap, there is much that teachers in both schools can learn from one another. In this contribution, we examine ways that tax accounting teaching approaches can be used in the law school classroom and vice versa. 

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January 25, 2022 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink

Ambivalent Tax Morale Building In China

Huina Xiao (Macau; Google Scholar), Ambivalent Tax Morale Building in China, 20 China: An Int'l J. __ (2022):

This study examines the measures taken in China over the last four decades which aim to encourage taxpayer compliance through building a tax morale—fairness, equity and reciprocity—between the government and citizens. The process is referred to as ‘ambivalent tax morale building’, characterised as the state’s contradictions and conflicting aspirations in tax governance. The ambivalence is driven by the party’s goals of maintaining both party legitimacy and monopoly, as well as a lack of state capacity. 

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January 25, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Monday, January 24, 2022

Dagan Presents Unbundled Tax Sovereignty: Refining The Challenges Today At Brooklyn

Tsilly Dagan (Oxford; Google Scholar) presents Unbundled Tax Sovereignty: Refining the Challenges at Brooklyn today as part of its Colloquium on International Economic Law hosted by Steven Dean and Julian Arato:

Tsilly_ibfdTax sovereignty under globalization is at risk of unraveling. Not only–as is often argued — because international organizations or other states exert external power on sovereign states. Instead, it is the process of fragmentation of state sovereignty that undermines its own foundations. My main claim is that globalization increasingly alters the interaction between states and their constituents. Globalization, and the choices and flexibility it offers (some) taxpayers, threatens to transform taxpayers from members in a political community into consumers of public goods and services. Such transition, I argue, undermines the basis for state's coercive power. Importantly, this transformation does not affect all individuals in the same way. It varies between taxpayers, between different stages of their lives as well as among different aspects of their lives. Hence, in reality, taxpayers' interactions with the state create a mosaic of differing shades and patterns of consumer-member combinations. This diversity has many virtues, but it also entails serious pitfalls, which is why I argue that — in order to ensure social contracts' continued legitimacy — states should re-configure their social contracts with their constituents to accommodate these trade-offs.

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January 24, 2022 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

WSJ: The Huge Tax Bills That Came Out Of Nowhere At Vanguard

Wall Street Journal, The Huge Tax Bills That Came Out of Nowhere at Vanguard:

VanguardIt’s easy for a small investor to make big mistakes. It would be even easier for giant investment firms to help prevent them—but, sadly, the asset-management industry seems to have other priorities.

Just look at what happened last month to some investors in Vanguard’s Target Retirement funds. They got whacked with huge capital-gains distributions. Those payouts triggered painful tax bills they could easily have avoided if Vanguard had simply warned them not to hold these funds outside of a tax-advantaged retirement account.

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January 24, 2022 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink

IRS Chief Counsel Seeks To Hire 200 Experienced Attorneys (Salary: $79,363 - $176,300)

IR-2022-17, IRS Chief Counsel Looking For 200 Experienced Attorneys to Focus on Abusive Tax Deals; Job Openings Posted:

IRS Office of Chief Counsel Logo (2015)The Internal Revenue Service's Office of Chief Counsel today announced plans to hire up to 200 additional attorneys to help the agency combat syndicated conservation easements, abusive micro-captive insurance arrangements and other tax schemes.

"Combating abusive tax transactions that threaten to undermine our tax system remains a top priority for our enforcement efforts," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "It's critical we work to ensure a fair tax system and adding these new attorneys will help us in on our ongoing efforts in this arena."

These positions will be available around the country, and the IRS encourages qualified candidates to apply. The first announcements for these positions have already been posted on USAJOBS. Interested persons should apply today or as soon as possible via the following announcements:

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January 24, 2022 in IRS News, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink

Ohio State Seeks To Hire A Junior Lateral Tax Prof

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law seeks to fill at least one tenure-track position:

Ohio State (2023)We are considering hiring a junior to mid-career lateral candidate for a position in the area of Tax Law or in both Business and Tax Law. 

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law is committed to building and maintaining a diverse and inclusive community to reflect human diversity and improve opportunities for all. Diversity, inclusion, and equity are essential to the excellence of our community, culture, and curriculum, and the pursuit of this excellence is critical to our educational mission.

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January 24, 2022 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink

Lesson From The Tax Court: The Qualifying Child Misnomer

Camp (2021)Like last week’s lesson, this week deals with how the Tax Code treats families as economic units and the difficulty in determining the scope of the proper family group.

Section 151 permits taxpayers a deduction for dependents.  Section 152 defines that term.  It divides the general concept of dependent into two buckets: one is labeled “Qualifying Child” (QC) and the other is labeled “Qualifying Relative” (QR).  The QC bucket is then used—more or less—to determine eligibility for the various child-rearing-related tax benefits in the Tax Code, such as the child credit, the earned income tax credit, etc.

Both labels are misnomers, but today’s lesson is about two common issues that arise with determining who is a QC.  In Carol Denise Griffin v. Commissioner, T.C. Sum. Op. 2021-26 (Aug. 16, 2021) (Judge Vasquez), we learn that a taxpayer can claim a deduction for a Qualifying Child who is not, actually, the taxpayer’s literal child.  However, in Nowran Gopi v. Commissioner, T.C. Sum. Op. 2021-41 (Dec. 2, 2021) (Judge Panuthos), we learn that a taxpayer may not do that when the Qualifying Child’s actual parent also files a tax return claiming the same QC.  Details below the fold.

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January 24, 2022 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Call For Presentations: UC-Irvine Tax Symposium

Call For Presentations: UC-Irvine Tax Sympsium:

UCI Law (2022)The Graduate Tax Program at the University of California, Irvine School of Law will host its 4th Annual UCI/Lavar Taylor Tax Symposium on March 21, 2022. Due to the ongoing COVID situation, we will host the symposium virtually. The theme this year is The Global Tax Deal and the Changing International Tax Order.

The purpose of this full-day symposium is to launch an in-depth discussion on the “global tax deal” adopting the OECD two-pillar framework, signed by 136 countries last October. We are interested in submissions for proposed presentations on the ramifications of the global deal from any point of view, including, but not limited to: economic, political, legal, social, racial, as well as any critical perceptive.

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January 24, 2022 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Politics Of Religion And Taxation: Keeping Church And State Separate

Mary Ann Hofmann (Appalachian State; Google Scholar), The Politics of Religion and Taxation: Keeping Church and State Separate, 22 J. Mgmt. Pol'y & Prac. __ (2021):

This paper discusses tax laws and federal court decisions relating to the taxation or exemption of religious non-profit organizations. In a democracy characterized by separation of church and state, what role does the federal government play in regulating the activities and financial transactions of churches and other religious non-profit organizations? What are the federal statutory requirements regarding tax exemption for churches, tax deductibility of donations to churches, and political activity by churches, and are these requirements justified? Does this regulation interfere with the free exercise of religion, or does the federal government violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment by providing inappropriate tax benefits to churches and clergy?

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January 23, 2022 in Faith, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

The Top Five New Tax Papers

There is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new paper joining the list at #1 and some reshuffling of the order within the Top 5:

  1. SSRN Logo (2018)[564 Downloads]  On the Evolving VAT Concept of Fixed Establishment, by Rita de la Feria (Leeds; Google Scholar)
  2. [308 Downloads]  Principles-based Tax Drafting and Friends. On Rules, Standards, Fictions and Legal Principles, by Hans Gribnau (Tilburg) & Sonja Dusarduijn (Tilburg)
  3. [223 Downloads]  The Proposal for a Minimum Global Tax: Critical Reflections, by Leopoldo Parada (Leeds; Google Scholar)
  4. [205 Downloads]  Reducing Administrative Burdens to Protect Taxpayer Rights, by Leslie Book (Villanova; Google Scholar), Keith Fogg (Harvard) & Nina Olson (Center for Taxpayer Rights)
  5. [190 Downloads]  Speeding Up Benefits to Charity: Donor Advised Fund and Foundation Reform, by Roger Colinvaux (Catholic)

January 23, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink

Saturday, January 22, 2022

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Videos: How To Do Legal Research And Tax Research

How To Do Legal Research
Learn or review how to do effective legal research. Indiana University law librarian Ashley Ahlbrand walks through the steps involved in the legal research process.

How To Do Tax Research
This video covers both legal research generally & variations specific to tax. Indiana University law librarian Ashley Ahlbrand walks through the steps involved in doing effective tax law research. The video also covers primary vs. secondary sources and tax-specific sources.

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January 22, 2022 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink

Friday, January 21, 2022

Federalizing Tax Justice

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan), Orli Avi-Yonah, Nir Fishbien (S.J.D. 2019, Michigan), New York) & Haiyan Xu (University of International Business and Economics Law School), Federalizing Tax Justice, 53 Ind. L. Rev. 461 (2020):

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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January 21, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Tax Policy In The Biden Administration

Next Week’s Tax Workshops

Next Week's Tax Workshops - twitter

Monday, January 24: Tsilly Dagan (Oxford; Google Scholar) will present Unbundled Tax Sovereignty: Refining the Challenges as part of the Brooklyn Colloquium on International Economic Law. If you would like to attend, please email Steven Dean.

Tuesday, January 25: Orly Mazur (SMU; Google Scholar) will present Can Blockchain Revolutionize Tax Administration? (reviewed by Sloan Speck (Colorado; Google Scholar)) here) as part of the San Diego Tax Law Speaker Series. If you would like to attend, please register here.

Wednesday, January 26: Michael Devereux (Oxford) will present Pillar 2: Rule Order, Incentives, and Tax Competition (with John Vella (Oxford) & Heydon Wardell-Burrus (Oxford)) and Business Location Decisions With A Global Minimum Tax (with Francois Bares (Wisconsin) & Irem Guceri (Oxford; Google Scholar) as part of the Toronto James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop. If you would like to attend, please contact Robert Lines.

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January 21, 2022 in Colloquia, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

Maynard: Biden’s Gambit: Advancing Racial Equity While Relying On A Race-Neutral Tax Code

Goldburn P. Maynard Jr. (Indiana University, Kelley School of Business; Google Scholar), Biden’s Gambit: Advancing Racial Equity While Relying on a Race-Neutral Tax Code, 131 Yale L.J. Forum 656 (2022):

Yale Law Journal (2020)The American Rescue Plan Act was both a major infusion of economic aid to low-income and middle-class Americans and an opportunity for the Biden Administration to keep its promise to promote racial equity. This Essay analyzes ARPA’s major provisions to determine their potential impact on racial equity. It argues that the Biden Administration should do more to tackle racial wealth inequality and the structural issues in the tax code that allow those at the top of the income distribution to benefit disproportionately from tax subsidies. It also underscores the larger challenge of achieving racial equity in the face of courts, particularly conservative judges, that treat race-based policies designed to counteract racial inequities as discriminatory.

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January 21, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Strategic Surrogates Or Sad Sinners: U.S. Taxation Of Bartering In Digital Services

Mark J. Cowan (Boise State), Joshua Cutler (Boise State) & Ryan J. Baxter (Boise State; Google Scholar), Strategic Surrogates or Sad Sinners: U.S. Taxation of Bartering in Digital Services,  58 Am. Bus. L.J. ___ (2021):

The COVID-19 pandemic caused both a surge in technology use and a deterioration in government finances. At the same time, big tech companies are under scrutiny by lawmakers for tax avoidance, antitrust issues, and other concerns. These realities call for governments to reassess tax policy towards tech companies and for tech companies to reassess legal strategy towards taxes. State and federal governments’ tax bases are eroding because of the non-cash, barter nature of modern transactions. When a taxpayer uses “free” digital services like email, social media, or search engines, she pays via access to her personal data or attention. From a legal and policy standpoint, these barter transactions should be taxed just as if cash had changed hands, but because it is not practicable to identify, value, and tax the data and time of each user, they have escaped taxation, giving many tech companies an unintended tax advantage. 

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January 21, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Kofler Presents The Shielding Effect of European Tax Directives Today At The OMG Transatlantic Tax Talks

Georg Kofler (Vienna; Google Scholar) presents The Shielding Effect of European Tax Directives today as part of the OMG Transatlantic Tax Talks Series (OMG = Oxford-Michigan-MIT-Munich-Georgetown):

OMG

January 20, 2022 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

Kaye: A Comparative Look At The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit And Opportunity Zones

Tracy A. Kaye (Seton Hall), Ogden Commons Case Study: A Comparative Look at the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and Opportunity Zone Incentive Tax Programs, 48 Fordham Urb. L.J. 1067 (2021):

The Opportunity Zone (OZ) tax incentive to invest in economically distressed areas across the United States was introduced in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This Article examines the Ogden Commons project, a mixed-use development in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood, as a case study for OZ investments. Ogden Commons represents an appropriate implementation of the OZ incentive, but its successes also demonstrate the program’s shortfalls. For example, unlike other federal economic development programs such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), OZ investors have few restrictions with regards to the projects they invest in. This much touted great flexibility for the OZ investments comes at the expense of little oversight.

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January 20, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Drexel Seeks To Hire A Tax VAP And A Tech/Torts VAP

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law invites applications for two Visiting Assistant Professor positions:

Drexel Logo (2020)One position is dedicated to a faculty member who will teach and research in the area of tax. The other position is open, with a preference for someone who does research that touches on legal implications of new technology and/or someone open to teaching Torts. Each position will last two years and VAP’s are expected to fully participate in the intellectual life of the law school.

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January 20, 2022 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink

Textualism Without Tax Shelters

Jacob D. Nielsen (J.D. & LL.M. (Tax) 2021, Boston University), Note, Textualism without Tax Shelters: A Proposal for Integrating Judicial Anti-Abuse Doctrines with Textualism, 101 B.U. L. Rev. 1471 (2021):

BU Law ReviewThe line between legitimate tax planning and abusive tax positions, while clear in many instances, produces a significant amount of controversy. Judicial scrutiny of close cases has led to the development of a body of loosely related anti-abuse doctrines designed to separate the wheat from the chaff. However, textualist judges have increasingly rejected or limited the use of anti-abuse doctrines out of a concern that such doctrines undermine taxpayer reliance on the law. Critics contend that by rejecting anti-abuse doctrines, these textualist judges legitimate abusive tax shelters and deprive the judiciary of essential tools for curbing abuse. This Note responds to textualists and their critics alike by arguing that textualism is not incompatible with judicial anti-abuse doctrines. After surveying major landmarks in the historical development of the legal system’s treatment of tax abuse and considering the Sixth Circuit’s approach to the issue, this Note develops an account of judicial anti-abuse doctrines as textually sensitive aids to statutory interpretation.

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January 20, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Fox Presents The Psychology Of Taxing Capital Income Today At Toronto

Ed Fox (Michigan; Google Scholar) presents The Psychology of Taxing Capital Income: Evidence from a Survey Experiment on the Realization Rule (with Zachary Liscow (Yale; Google Scholar)) (reviewed by David Elkins (Netanya) here) at Toronto today as part of its James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series:

Fox_EdHow to tax capital income is a critical issue today. The realization rule—requiring that property usually must be sold before gains are taxed—is central to taxing capital income, but often decreases the efficiency, equity, and simplicity of the tax system. Estimates suggest that the realization rule costs the government over $2 trillion over 10 years. Given these problems, it is unclear why the rule exists for assets that are easy to value and sell. Scholars have long speculated about the role of the public’s views here, but little is known empirically about them. We conduct the first survey experiment to understand the psychology of the realization rule, which has broad implications for the taxation of capital income.

We have three main findings. First, respondents strongly prefer to wait to tax gains on stocks until sale: 75% to 25%. This pattern persists across a variety of other assets and policy framings: indeed, nearly half of those without stock prefer raising everyone’s taxes (including their own) to taxing unsold stock gains. But the flip side is that there is surprisingly strong support for taxing gains on assets at sale or transfer, including at death, in areas where current law never taxes those gains.

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January 19, 2022 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

Wage Enslavement: How The Tax System Holds Back Historically Disadvantaged Groups Of Americans

Goldburn Maynard Jr. (Indiana University, Kelley School of Business; Google Scholar) & David Gamage (Indiana University, Maurer School of Law; Google Scholar), Wage Enslavement: How the Tax System Holds Back Historically Disadvantaged Groups of Americans, 110 Ky. L.J. __ (2022):

Despite the importance placed on equality of opportunity within United States political culture, the existing tax system inhibits historically disadvantaged groups from building wealth or catching up with historically more privileged groups. This effectively then traps many members of historically disadvantaged groups into a continued cycle of dependence on tax-disfavored wage and salary income, a phenomenon that we metaphorically label as “wage enslavement.” This Article explains this phenomenon and then calls for reform.

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January 19, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

University Of Mississippi Seeks To Hire A Tax Visitor

University of Mississippi Seeks Visiting Professor in Taxation:

Mississippi (2021)The University of Mississippi School of Law invites applications and nominations for a visiting professor during the 2022-2023 academic year. Depending on the courses that are being taught, we are flexible as to one semester (fall or spring) or full academic-year visitorships. Appointments will be at the rank of assistant, associate, or full professor depending on experience.

We are looking for a candidate to teach two tax or tax related courses per semester.

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January 19, 2022 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink

Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Support Center

Nina Olson (Center for Taxpayer Rights), It’s (A)Live! LITC Connect Is Up And Running (Sort Of!):

Center for Taxpayer RightsAfter nine months of gestation, the Center for Taxpayer Rights has a new offspring … the LITC Support Center.  Today, the Support Center’s website is live, including the “dating app” for LITCs and prospective volunteers, LITC Connect.  Yay!  And a huge sigh of relief.

To recap:  since the days when I was the executive director of The Community Tax Law Project, it’s been clear the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic community, including its volunteers, have needed a resource center to provide technical support, litigation strategy, research, and systemic advocacy.  The Center started providing this support throughout the pandemic, hosting weekly Litigation Strategy calls with LITCs, assisting in several of the Economic Impact Payment lawsuits, and submitting amicus briefs on issues affecting low income taxpayers, as discussed here and here and here.

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January 19, 2022 in Tax | Permalink

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Layser: Financing Affordable Housing Through Opportunity Funds

Michelle D. Layser (Illinois; Google Scholar), Financing Affordable Housing Through Opportunity Funds, 19 Pitt. Tax Rev. __ (2022):

Pittsburgh Tax Review (2021)This Essay considers how the Opportunity Zones law could be amended to promote affordable housing development, and it evaluates whether policymakers should adopt such amendments. This Essay identifies several legal and practical barriers to the use of Opportunity Funds to finance affordable housing development, including through twinning with the LIHTC. These barriers include: substantial improvement rules that present barriers to affordable housing rehabilitation; basis rules that present barriers to new construction deals with low debt-to-equity ratios; strict timing rules that may not align with the realities of affordable housing construction; limits on nonqualified financial property holdings that may foreclose common affordable housing development structures; and differences in the identity and motivations of the investors who typically participate in Opportunity Zones deals versus LIHTC deals.

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January 18, 2022 in Michelle Layser, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Woolhandler: Public Rights And Taxation

Following up on my previous post on Nicholas R. Parrillo (Yale), A Critical Assessment of the Originalist Case Against Administrative Regulatory Power: New Evidence from the Federal Tax on Private Real Estate in the 1790s, 130 Yale L.J. 1288 (2021):  Ann Woolhandler (Virginia; Google Scholar), Public Rights and Taxation: A Brief Response to Professor Parrillo:

A division exists between scholars who claim that Congress made only limited delegations to executive officials in the early Republic, and those who see more extensive delegations. In A Critical Assessment of the Originalist Case Against Administrative Regulatory Power: New Evidence from the Federal Tax on Private Real Estate in the 1790s, Professor Nicholas Parrillo claims that congressional delegations under the direct tax of 1798 undercut arguments that early delegations of rulemaking either addressed unimportant issues or were limited to special categories. Nondelegation scholar Professor Ilan Wurman responded to Parrillo in the volume of the Yale Law Journal in which Parrillo’s article appeared [Nondelegation at the Founding], particularly arguing that Congress itself addressed the important issues as to the 1798 tax. 

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January 18, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Lesson From The Tax Court: The Tacit Consent Rule

Camp (2021)Every marriage requires trust.  In my own marriage my DW trusts me to handle our finances.  I’m sort of the CFO of our marriage.  As part of my duties I prepare our taxes.  I try to explain them to my DW before I file, but more often than not she just waves me away with a smile, saying “I trust you.”  Back in the day when we filed paper returns I at least was able to ensure she signed the returns.  But now that we file electronically, I just make a few clicks and, boom!, it’s filed.

I have sometimes questioned whether we are really filing a joint return when it’s only me doing all the clicking for the electronic submission.  When one files electronically there is nothing analogous to an actual signature to show that both spouses have even seen, much less approved, of what is submitted.  You just need to create two 5-digit numbers, one for each spouse. Tax return preparers at least get to secure a wet signature on Form 8879 to show both spouses consented to the return preparer submitting the electronic return.  I got nothing like that.  Just a smile and a “I trust you.”

Today’s lesson answers my question.  In Om P. Soni and Anjali Soni v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2021-137 (Dec. 1, 2021) (Judge Copeland), we learn that a spouse can tacitly consent to a joint return even when the spouse does not actually sign the return and even when someone else forges the spouse’s signature!  Whether there is tacit consent depends on the facts and circumstances of the filing.  And perhaps the most important factor is a history of one spouse’s trust in the other.  Details below the fold.

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January 18, 2022 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Death Of Art Cockfield (Queen's)

Mark Walters (Dean, Queen’s University Faculty of Law), In Memoriam - Arthur Cockfield:

CockfieldI am writing with some extremely difficult news. Our colleague and our friend Art Cockfield passed away suddenly on Sunday, January 9, arising from an unsuspected heart condition.

This is very hard and shocking news for all of us.  Our thoughts turn to his family. We will all wish to convey our deepest condolences and sympathies to them during this difficult time.

For the many, many graduates of our law school who had the great fortune to learn law from Professor Cockfield, and for Art’s former classmates, this news will be very difficult to understand and process.

Art was a mainstay of our law school. Art studied business at Western University, obtained his law degree from Queen’s in 1993, and completed doctoral studies in law at Stanford University. He returned to Queen’s as a faculty member in 2001. He was a Full Professor and the Associate Dean of Academic Policy. Art was one of the world’s leading tax law scholars. His work on comparative and international tax law was truly innovative and extremely influential. He was a loyal and dedicated teacher who cared deeply for his students. Art was cherished as a mentor and a friend to so many of us.

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January 18, 2022 in Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax | Permalink

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Monday, January 17, 2022

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Tax Perjury Trial

Tax Chats: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Tax Perjury Trial: A Conversation With Edgar Dyer:

Tax ChatsMartin Luther King Jr. is the only person to have ever been tried for perjury with regards to state income taxes in Alabama. Jeff and Scott interview Edgar Dyer about the tax perjury trial of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1960. Eddie wrote an article entitled A Triumph of Justice in Alabama: The 1960 Perjury Trial of Martin Luther King, Jr., 88. J. Afr. Am. Hist. 245 (2003).

Fred Grey, Martin Luther King's attorney, said of the trial, "No one would have predicted that an all-white jury in Montgomery, Alabama, the Cradle of the Confederacy, in May 1960, in the middle of all the sit-ins and all of the racial tension that was going on, would exonerate Martin Luther King, Jr. But it really happened." Correta Scott King said of the trial, "A southern jury of twelve white men had acquitted Martin. It was a triumph of justice, a miracle that restored your faith in human good." Dr. King said it was a "turning point" in his life. Tune in to hear about this triumphal tax trial, which was a turning point for Martin Luther King.

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January 17, 2022 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink

National Taxpayer Advocate Delivers 2021 Annual Report To Congress

NTA

IR-2022-11 (Jan. 12, 2022), National Taxpayer Advocate Delivers Annual Report to Congress; Focuses on Taxpayer Impact of Processing and Refund Delays:

National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins today released her 2021 Annual Report to Congress, calling calendar year 2021 "the most challenging year taxpayers and tax professionals have ever experienced." The report says tens of millions of taxpayers experienced delays in the processing of their returns, and with 77 percent of individual taxpayers receiving refunds, "processing delays translated directly into refund delays."

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January 17, 2022 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink

Sunday, January 16, 2022

The Top Five New Tax Papers

There is a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new paper joining the list at #5 and some reshuffling of the order within the Top 5:

  1. SSRN Logo (2018)[299 Downloads]  Principles-based Tax Drafting and Friends. On Rules, Standards, Fictions and Legal Principles, by Hans Gribnau (Tilburg) & Sonja Dusarduijn (Tilburg)
  2. [194 Downloads]  Reducing Administrative Burdens to Protect Taxpayer Rights, by Leslie Book (Villanova; Google Scholar), Keith Fogg (Harvard) & Nina Olson (Center for Taxpayer Rights)
  3. [193 Downloads]  The Proposal for a Minimum Global Tax: Critical Reflections, by Leopoldo Parada (Leeds; Google Scholar)
  4. [187 Downloads]  Speeding Up Benefits to Charity: Donor Advised Fund and Foundation Reform, by Roger Colinvaux (Catholic)
  5. [123 Downloads]  2020 Developments in Connecticut Estate and Probate Law, by Jeffrey Cooper (Quinnipiac; Google Scholar), John Ivimey (Reid & Riege, Hartford) & Katherine Mulry (Reid & Riege, Hartford)

January 16, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink

Saturday, January 15, 2022

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

IRS Targets Your Side Hustle In Crackdown On Transactions Over $600

Bloomberg, IRS Targets Your Side Hustle In Crackdown on Transactions Over $600:

IRS Logo 2It just got harder to hide from the IRS.

Starting this month, users selling goods and services through such popular sites as Venmo, Etsy and Airbnb will begin receiving tax forms if they take a payment of more than $600. One by one in recent months, tech giants have been warning users of the coming changes and asking them to provide tax information.

“Until this year, the threshold was much higher ($20,000 and 200 transactions) so it didn’t affect nearly as many people,” Venmo told users in its messages about the change. “This requirement only pertains to payments received for sales of goods and services and does not apply to friends and family payments.”

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January 15, 2022 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink

Friday, January 14, 2022

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Elkins Reviews Infanti's Tax And Time: On The Use And Misuse Of Legal Imagination

This week David Elkins (Netanya, visiting NYU 2021-2022; Google Scholar) reviews a new paper by Anthony C. Infanti (Pittsburgh; Google Scholar), Tax and Time: On the Use and Misuse of Legal Imagination (NYU Press 2022). 

InfantiTime is one of the more perplexing phenomena of the universe. Astrophysicists distinguish between what they call “real time” (time as we experience it, as a series of continuous moments moving from the past to the future) and “imaginary time” (time as viewed from outside the time-space continuum, as a unitary whole with past, present, and future existing simultaneously). However, lest we misinterpret the terms, real time is not more real than imaginary time, and imaginary time is not more imaginary than real time. The terms “real” and “imaginary” simply refer to the real and imaginary axes in Cartesian complex number coordinates. In fact, in ordinary language, it is probably more accurate to describe imaginary time as “real” (an objective portrayal of the universe) and real time as “imaginary” (our psychological perception of the flow of time). One example of the complexities that arise in this field is the conundrum of the arrow of time: Why do we remember the past, but not the future? Why do we experience time as always flowing in one direction? The arrow of time has intrigued philosophers also. Why is the knowledge that I am to experience future pleasure preferable to the knowledge that I experienced past pleasure? Why is knowledge that I am to experience future pain more disconcerting than the knowledge than I experienced pain in the past?

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January 14, 2022 in David Elkins, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink

Tax Policy In The Biden Administration

Next Week’s Tax Workshops

Next Week's Tax Workshops - twitterWednesday, January 19: Ed Fox (Michigan; Google Scholar) will present The Psychology of Taxing Capital Income: Evidence from a Survey Experiment on the Realization Rule (with Zachary Liscow (Yale; Google Scholar)) as part of the Toronto James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series. If you would like to attend, please contact Robert Lines

Thursday, January 20: Georg Kofler (Vienna; Google Scholar) will present The Shielding Effect of EU Secondary Law as part of the OMG Transatlantic Tax Talks. This event does not require registration.

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January 14, 2022 in Colloquia, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

Americans For Tax Fairness Seeks To Hire A Tax Research & Policy Associate

Americans For Tax Fairness is seeking to hire a Tax Research & Policy Associate:

Americans For Tax Fairness (2019)POSITION SUMMARY
Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition of national and state endorsing organizations active on high-profile federal tax reform issues, is seeking a Research & Policy Associate to provide support for research, policy and communications work and perform administrative duties. This is a full-time non-exempt position that provides a competitive salary and benefits. The Research & Policy Associate reports to the Executive Director. The salary range is $45,000 to $60,000 depending on experience. A competitive benefits package includes employer-paid health, dental, and vision insurance, 3% employer match on 401k contributions, pre-tax transportation benefits, and paid holidays, vacation, sick, and volunteer time off. ATF operates as a virtual office, but there is a possibility that this may change in a year, at which time the position might be located in Washington, D.C.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

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January 14, 2022 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink

Realization's Vexations: Taxing Cryptocurrency Hard Forks

Arvind Sabu (Capital), Realization's Vexations: Taxing Cryptocurrency Hard Forks, 61 Jurimetrics J. 379 (2021):

A cryptocurrency hard fork seems to increase a holder’s fortunes—those who held Bitcoin, for example, nominally received an equivalent amount of Bitcoin Cash as a result of a famous hard fork. But this Article argues they should not be taxed based on the time of the fork, nor would they then be taxed under existing authorities.

Cryptocurrency hard forks represent innovative experimentation with changes to a cryptocurrency’s protocol in the rich modality of commons-based peer production—the modality responsible for Wikipedia and Linux. The tax system should not stifle this ex¬perimentation and the growth of the cryptocurrency commons by taxing hard forks based on when they occur. Relatedly, the indeterminate value of newly forked cryptocurrencies weighs against taxing hard forks based on when they occur.

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January 14, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Sarkar: Tax Law's Migration

Shayak Sarkar (UC-Davis), Tax Law's Migration, 62 BC L. Rev. 2209 (2021):

Tax law has long left poor foreigners in precarity. Despite the Supreme Court striking down nineteenth-century state laws taxing migrants upon entry, the tax system has nonetheless determined who deserved a place, and what sort of place, within our borders. That tradition continues when the tax system’s emergency relief deprives otherwise needy noncitizens, giving migrants a lesser place.

This Article sheds light on this phenomenon—“tax law’s migration”—engaging two underappreciated connections between immigration and tax law.

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January 13, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Estate And Gift Tax Valuation Of Cannabis Business Interests

Jonathan G. Blattmachr (Milbank), Bridget J. Crawford (Pace; Google Scholar) & Mitchell M. Gans (Hofstra;), Estate and Gift Tax Valuation of Cannabis Business Interests, 2022 Tr. & Est. 22 (2022):

Approximately half of all American adults have used cannabis at some point in their lives. Whether or not any one estate planning professional falls into this particular demographic, it is crucial for all advisors understand the estate planning uncertainties and complexities facing owners of legal cannabis businesses. Eighteen states have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use; thirty-seven states have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis (often in conjunction with permitting adult recreational uses). Experts estimate that legal recreational sales in the United States were $18.9 billion in 2021 and that, by 2026, sales in the United States alone will reach $41.8 billion or more. As the legal cannabis industry expands, estate planners are more likely to have clients who own interests in legal cannabis businesses. After providing a brief introduction to the important federal banking and income tax limitations on cannabis businesses, this article turns to the more complex—and unpredictable—issue of how interests in legal cannabis businesses should be valued for estate and gift tax purposes.

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January 13, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

U.S. Department Of Justice Tax Division Seeks To Hire Trial Attorneys

U.S. Department of Justice, Trial Attorney:

DOJ Logo (2022)The Tax Division is looking for Trial Attorneys to join the Civil Trial Sections. Our attorneys have a passion for litigation; a deep interest in public service; and the ability to work both collaboratively and independently. Familiarity with tax law and the use of technology in organizing, developing, and presenting a case at trial is helpful, but not required. Attorneys in the Civil Trial Sections represent the United States in litigation in federal and state courts across the country. ...

Trial Attorneys in the Civil Trial Sections are the front-line litigators for the United States for tax disputes in federal district and bankruptcy courts and the Court of Federal Claims. These cases arise all over the United States, and, under normal conditions, significant travel is required of our attorneys for depositions, hearings, and trials. Most Trial Attorneys are responsible for a range of cases, including matters they handle alone and others where they work as a member of a litigation team. In either situation, our attorneys have front-line responsibility for taking and defending depositions, writing and arguing motions, working with fact and expert witnesses, and trying cases.

USA Jobs, Trial Attorney, Department of Justice:

Open & closing dates:  01/07/2022 to 02/07/2022
Salary $89,834 - $176,300 per year
Pay scale & grade GS 12 - 15 

January 13, 2022 in Tax | Permalink

NY Times: The IRS Is Warning Of A Messy Tax Season

New York Times, The I.R.S. Is Warning of a Messy Tax Season:

IRS Logo 2The federal tax filing season will run from Jan. 24 to April 18 this year, the Internal Revenue Service said on Monday, warning in its announcement that staffing shortages and paperwork backlogs could make for a messy and frustrating experience for taxpayers.

In a briefing on Monday, Treasury Department officials said that the I.R.S. would struggle to promptly answer telephone calls from taxpayers with questions and that a lower level of service should be expected. They blamed Republican legislators, who have blocked efforts to increase funding at the agency, for the lack of resources.

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January 13, 2022 in IRS News, Tax, Tax News | Permalink

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

De Cogan Presents The Unaccountability Of Tax Devolution: A Case Study Of Business Rates Today At Toronto

Dominic De Cogan (Cambridge) presents The Unaccountability of Tax Devolution: A Case Study of Business Rates (with Penelope Tuck (University of Birmingham; Google Scholar)) at Toronto today as part of its James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series:

DominicdecoganThis article was published in [2022] Public Law 38. It examines the accountability arguments for business rates devolution and shows them to be weak. They are undermined by the economic incoherence of the tax, the complexity of devolved powers and a lack of transparency around the use of powers. These problems resonate with a widely held belief that business rates ought to be repealed and replaced with a more carefully designed tax, especially in response to the pressures placed on the system by COVID-19. We are not hostile to these ideas but doubt the likelihood of rapid implementation, and therefore focus on the existing system, paying special regard to the COVID reliefs of 2020 and 2021. We suggest incremental improvements that could reinforce the accountability justifications for devolution; these might be useful even in the event that radical reforms are enacted.

A key justification for tax devolution is that it enhances sub-central accountability.  The meaning of ‘accountability’ in this context is not always clear, but it seems to embody two linked claims. 

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January 12, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

Burke: Transfers Of Zero-Basis Intangibles To A Partnership

Karen C. Burke (Florida), Transfers of Zero-Basis Intangibles to a Partnership, 174 Tax Notes Fed. 25 (Jan. 3, 2022):

Tax Notes Federal (2020)In this report, Burke examines the problem of contributed zero-basis intangibles in light of the IRS’s inadvertent disclosure of a transaction structured by Bristol-Myers Squibb to shift billions of dollars of built-in gain to a related foreign partner.

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January 12, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Morse: A Tax Deadline Missed By One Day Leads To A Supreme Court Showdown Over Equity, Jurisdiction – And Grammar

SCOTUSblog:  A Tax Deadline Missed By One Day Leads to a Showdown Over Equity, Jurisdiction – and Grammar, by Susan C. Morse (Texas; Google Scholar):

Supreme Court (2018)The argument on Wednesday in Boechler v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue will consider whether “equitable tolling” — which allows courts to excuse missed deadlines in some circumstances — is available for a statutory federal income tax deadline. The issue has split circuits, with the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 8th and 9th Circuits concluding that tolling is not available, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit concluding that tolling is available for a similarly worded tax provision. The court’s consideration of this question will address an issue of particular interest for low-income taxpayers and their advocates. It will also add to the court’s precedent on the interaction between the law of equity and the technicalities of federal statutes. Partly because of the circuit split and partly because of the statute’s lack of clarity, this could be a close case.

The dispute arose after the Internal Revenue Service assessed a $19,250 penalty and issued a notice of intent to levy to a small North Dakota law firm for failing to file employee tax withholding forms. After a hearing, the IRS issued a notice of determination sustaining the proposed levy. Under the Internal Revenue Code, the firm had a 30-day window following the issuance of the notice of determination to file a petition in the U.S. Tax Court to challenge the notice. The deadline was Aug. 28, 2017. The firm mailed its petition on Aug. 29, 2017. The question for the justices is whether the Tax Court may consider equitable tolling for this deadline; or whether the deadline is jurisdictional, which, under applicable precedent, would bar consideration of equitable tolling.

Both sides center their arguments on a test set forth in the 2015 case United States v. Kwai Fun Wong, decided 5-4, which elaborated a framework established in the 1990 case Irwin v. Department of Veterans Affairs. Under the Kwai Fun Wong test, there is a rebuttable presumption of equitable tolling for suits against the government. How can the presumption be rebutted? If the statute shows that Congress “plainly” gave the time limits “jurisdictional consequences.” Time limits are then jurisdictional and not subject to equitable tolling.

In Boechler, the court has the task of categorizing a limitation period that relates to a “collection due process” procedure. ...

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January 12, 2022 in New Cases, Tax, Tax News | Permalink