Paul L. Caron
Dean


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Women Business Owners And Tax Reform

Caroline Bruckner (American University, Kogod School of Business), Doubling Down on a Billion Dollar Blind Spot: Women Business Owners and Tax Reform, 9 Am. U. L. Rev. 47 (2020):

In 1972, the U.S. Census Bureau began tracking the total number of women-owned firms and found women owned only 4.6 percent of all U.S. firms. Since then, the total number of women-owned firms (defined as 51 percent or more as owned by women) has grown exponentially to represent 42 percent of all U.S. firms in 2019. During this period, Congress has supported women’s business ownership by passing legislation designed to eliminate discriminatory lending practices and promote federal contracting and counseling opportunities for women business owners. At the same time, Congress has regularly worked to enhance the U.S. Internal Revenue Code to benefit small businesses on a number of fronts. Most recently, in December 2017, Congress passed major tax reform legislation (commonly referred to as the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” or “TCJA”) to provide tax relief for businesses and families. The initial estimated cost to taxpayers was substantial and projected to increase federal deficits by more than $1.8 trillion from 2018-2027.

However, at no point prior to the TCJA did the Congressional tax writing committees consider whether this would be money well spent when it comes to women business owners (“WBOs”). This is problematic because while women-owned firms have grown to more than 40 percent of all U.S. firms, the majority are small businesses operating in service industries and continue to face challenges growing their receipts and accessing capital. The challenges that WBOs face are not new and Congress had the opportunity to consider them in connection with the 2017 TCJA debate. It failed to do so.

This article considers Congress’ efforts to spur economic growth through the TCJA with respect to WBOs and finds that Congress effectively doubled-down on the billion dollar blind spot it has with respect to WBOs and tax expenditures targeted to small businesses.

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July 15, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Hasen Presents Debt And Taxes Virtually Today At Florida

David Hasen (Florida) presents Debt And Taxes at Florida today as part of its Summer 2020 Virtual Faculty Workshop Series:

Hasen (2020)The federal income tax conceptualizes loans as an exchange of cash for promises to pay interest and to repay the cash by the term. This formulation is subtly wrong and has resulted in a weaker foundation for the existing rules, which are mostly correct, than they in fact enjoy. Conceptualizing loans as closely akin to rental arrangements places the existing rules on sounder conceptual footing. One exception, however, to the support for current law that the loan-as-rent arrangement provides is in the area of partnership tax. If loans are like cash rentals, the payment of interest is what supports both the borrower’s non-inclusion of loan proceeds and the borrower’s basis credit for them. Consistent with the loan-as-rent formulation, Treasury should provide for allocation of basis credit among partners for the partnership’s recourse debt based on who pays interest, not under the “catastrophe theory” of the current regulations.

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July 14, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hemel: Trump Lost At The Supreme Court, But We Still Won’t See His Tax Returns Before The Election

Following up on last Friday's post, Perspectives On The Supreme Court's Trump Tax Return Decision:

Washington Post op-ed:  Trump Lost at the Supreme Court, but We Still Won’t See His Taxes By November:

The Supreme Court’s twin rulings Thursday in cases involving President Trump’s financial records virtually assure that the 45th president will succeed in shielding his tax returns from the public until after the November election. This is a remarkable feat for a president whose six immediate predecessors all released their returns while in the White House. How did Trump pull it off?

In typical Trumpian fashion, he did it, in part, by lying outright. Trump said in May 2014 that he would “absolutely” release his returns if he ran for president, which proved to be absolutely false. But he couldn’t have done it alone. The president also received substantial aid from others — including some Democrats — who made it possible for him to hide his tax documents from the American people, Thursday’s Supreme Court rebuke notwithstanding.

Presidents releasing their tax returns to the nation had become a 40-year-old bipartisan tradition by the time Trump entered the Oval Office in January 2017. The practice served several functions. It assured Americans that taxes were not only for “the little people” — we knew that when we paid up, our leaders did, too. It allowed us to assess whether presidents pursued tax policies that were in the national interest or their own, and it gave us insight on possible financial conflicts that might cloud their judgment. It also served as a check on the Internal Revenue Service, which is in the uncomfortable position of auditing its own boss. When President Richard Nixon was in office, the IRS overlooked improper deductions that allowed Nixon to reduce his tax bill by hundreds of thousands of dollars. In making their returns available for public inspection, later presidents reduced the risk that they might receive favorable treatment from the agency.

So the three Republican and three Democratic presidents before Trump released their returns. And just as it took a bipartisan effort to entrench the practice, it took bipartisan inaction to unravel it. ...

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July 14, 2020 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (1)

2020-22 ABA Tax Section Public Service Fellows

The 2020-2022 Christine A. Brunswick Public Service Fellowship Class:

  • ABA Tax Section (2017)Shailana Dunn-Wall, a graduate of University of Nebraska College of Law, will work with Legal Aid of Nebraska to educate residents throughout Nebraska on the benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit in an effort to increase the percentage of eligible taxpayers who claim the credit by filing a tax return.
  • Terri Morris, a graduate of University of Richmond School of Law, will work with the Community Tax Law Project of Richmond, Virginia, on their Fight Against Financial Abuse project. Through this initiative, Terri will advocate, educate and engage local domestic violence survivors on tax issues surrounding financial abuse.

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July 14, 2020 in ABA Tax Section, Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 13, 2020

Gergen: A Securities Tax And The Problems of Taxing Global Capital

Mark P. Gergen (UC-Berkeley), A Securities Tax and the Problems of Taxing Global Capital:

An earlier paper, How to Tax Capital, 70 Tax L. Rev. 1 (2016), proposed a new approach to taxing capital owned by U.S. households and nonprofits. The cornerstone is a flat periodic tax on the market value of U.S. publicly traded securities. An annual tax rate of around .8 percent (80 basis points) would roughly approximate the average tax burden on capital income in the U.S. under the existing patchwork system for taxing capital income. A security issuer would remit the tax based on the market value of its securities. A security issuer would receive a credit for U.S. publicly traded securities it holds so that wealth that is represented by a string of publicly traded securities would be taxed once. Wealth held in forms other than publicly traded securities (e.g, private equity and closely held companies) would be taxed by a complementary tax at the same rate on their estimated value. The earlier paper explained why the securities tax is superior to the individual income tax and the corporate income tax as a tax on capital. It eliminates most distortions created by the existing system, it is easy to administer, and it is impossible to evade other than by holding wealth in illiquid forms (which is costly).

This paper examines how the securities tax would function in a global context assuming that other nations do not change their approach to taxing cross-border investment.

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July 13, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Releases 2019 Data Book

IR-2020-133, IRS Releases New Data Book:

IRS Data BookThe Internal Revenue Service today unveiled the 2019 IRS Data Book, featuring a redesigned format that provides a different and expanded look at IRS accomplishments during the past year.

Available now on IRS.gov, the redesigned Fiscal Year 2019 edition of the IRS Data Book provides the annual set of statistical tables summarizing tax filings, revenue collections, taxpayer services, enforcement activities and agency operations. The new Data Book features an updated format with additional tables designed to more accurately reflect the way the IRS does business today.

"The IRS is changing from many perspectives, and the Data Book reflects that change as well," IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig wrote in the Data Book's introduction.

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July 13, 2020 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lesson From The Tax Court: The #1 Habit Of Highly Successful Taxpayers

CoveyIn Michael K. Simpson and Cynthia R. Simpson v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2020-100 (July 7, 2020) (Judge Buch) the hapless taxpayers — devotee’s of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — not only failed to separate personal from business expenses, they also confused entity returns and personal returns.  The case is an object lesson on the importance of taxpayers properly accounting for business expenses and personal expenses.  Careful accounting is probably the #1 Habit of Highly Successful Taxpayers.  Details below the fold.

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July 13, 2020 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, July 12, 2020

NY Times And National Tax Association Tributes To Ed Kleinbard

Following up on my previous posts:

New York Times (Jesse Drucker), Edward Kleinbard, Tax Lawyer Turned Reformer, Dies at 68:

Edward Kleinbard, a prominent tax lawyer who helped global corporations find creative ways to cut their taxes before he moved to academia and shined a light on the practices of the types of companies he had once advised, died on June 28 in Los Angeles. He was 68. ...

Mr. Kleinbard’s career cut an unusual arc. He spent more than 30 years as a corporate tax lawyer, helping companies and financial institutions on Wall Street and elsewhere cut their tax bills. He then devoted the last decade to the cause of raising taxes, as a means of combating inequality and poverty. As a member of the law school faculty at the University of Southern California, he used his insider’s expertise to show in particular how multinational companies avoid taxes.

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July 12, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

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 new papers debuting on the list at #4 and #5:

  1. SSRN Logo (2018)[347 Downloads]  The Legality of Digital Taxes in Europe, by Ruth Mason (Virginia) & Leopoldo Parada (Leeds)
  2. [165 Downloads]  Taxation Of The Digital Economy: Adapting A 21st-Century Tax System To A Twenty-First Century Economy, by Assaf Harpaz (S.J.D. 2020, Duke)
  3. [131 Downloads]  Are Two Employers Better than One? An Empirical Assessment of Multiple-Employer Retirement Plans, by Natalya Shnitser (Boston College)
  4. [117 Downloads]  Deeming Fictions in the Context of Tax Treaties — Analyzing Arguments in HMRC v. Fowler, by Dhruv Sanghavi (Maastricht)
  5. [105 Downloads]  New Technologies and the Evolution of Tax Compliance, by James Alm (Tulane), Joyce Beebe (Rice), Michael Kirsch (Notre Dame), Omri Marian (UC-Irvine) & Jay Soled (Rutgers)

July 12, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 11, 2020

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

After Harvard And MIT Sue To Block International Student Visas For Online Courses, Trump Tweet Threatens Tax Exempt Status Of Colleges

New York Times, As Universities Seek to Block Visa Rules, Trump Threatens Tax Status:

Harvard and M.I.T. want a court to protect foreign students taking online classes. After a hearing, President Trump said he was ordering a review of universities’ tax-exempt status.

Trump

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July 11, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (7)

Friday, July 10, 2020

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Layser Reviews Galle's The Agency Costs Of Forever Philanthropy

This week, Michelle Layser (Illinois) reviews Brian Galle (Georgetown), The Quick (Spending) and the Dead: The Agency Costs of Forever Philanthropy.

Layser (2018)

Philanthropists have many options for where to donate, but donor advised funds are a favorite among the ultra-wealthy. These close cousins to private foundations are accounts held through grant-making entities called commercial donor advised fund sponsoring organizations, or “DSOs.” Like private foundations, DSOs are subject to more restrictions than public charities. But unlike private foundations, those restrictions do not include a payout requirement.

As a result, DSOs offer a unique opportunity for donors to amass social influence through contributions that are never actually allocated to grants. Read that again: it is possible that contributions made to a DSO may never be used to fund real charity. In fact, IRS data suggests that roughly a fifth of DSOs averaged a payout rate of zero during the period for which information was available. But do low payout rates like these always reflect donor preferences? In a new essay, Professor Brian Galle offers compelling empirical evidence that the answer is no. At least part of the problem, according to Galle, can be attributed to agency costs that arise after a donor dies.

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July 10, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Lawsky: Situating Tax Experimentation

Sarah B. Lawsky (Northwestern), Situating Tax Experimentation: A Response to Michael Abramowicz’s Tax Experimentation, 71 Fla. L. Rev. F. 76 (2020):

In Tax Experimentation, [71 Fla. L. Rev. 65 (2019)], Professor Michael Abramowicz proposes that the government employ “tax experiments.” In these experiments, a subgroup of taxpayers would be treated differently than other taxpayers, for purposes of the tax law, for some period of time. The behavior of the treatment group could give the government information about tax policies. After briefly summarizing the article, this response suggests that Professor Abramowicz’s proposal has the potential for significant impact and that taking into account additional issues raised by existing tax scholarship—about tax morale, revenue estimation, and sunset provisions—will make the proposal even stronger.

July 10, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Tax Section Hosts Free CLE Webinar Today On Race And The Internal Revenue Code

The ABA Tax Section hosts a free CLE webinar on Race and the Internal Revenue Code today at 1:00 pm to 2:35 pm ET:

ABA Race And The Tax CoceAs the nation focuses on the many racial inequities that permeate society, this free webinar will explore how the federal tax code, state and local taxes and international taxation impact racial inequality.

The panel will feature a demonstration of a recently released interactive feature that traces IRS Form 1040 line by line to examine the impact of the federal tax code on racial and economic inequality. The panel will further explore the impact of colorblind tax data on social policy. Panelists will also discuss the racial inequities perpetuated through taxable treatment of employment discrimination damages and how race intersects with international tax law and policy.

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July 10, 2020 in ABA Tax Section, Conferences, Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0)

Perspectives On The Supreme Court's Trump Tax Return Decision

FiveThirtyEight, We’re Not Going To See Trump’s Tax Returns Anytime Soon:

President Trump is one of the only presidents in modern memory who has kept his tax returns private, and attempts to force their release have sparked a mountain of litigation, reaching all the way to the Supreme Court.

But the Supreme Court’s verdict on whether Trump’s banks and accounting firm can be required to release his personal financial records is a bit of a mixed bag.

On the one hand, the court delivered Trump a major defeat, dismissing his most expansive claims to presidential immunity. Trump has argued that while in the White House, he can’t be criminally investigated. But the court ruled in a 7-2 decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts that New York prosecutors do have the authority to subpoena his business records, sending the case back to the lower court.

But in the second ruling on Trump’s tax returns — which was also a 7-2 decision written by Roberts — which involved three House committees’ subpoenas for his records, the court essentially punted. The justices emphasized the House does have the authority to issue subpoenas related to oversight of the executive branch, but they said lower court judges didn’t properly weigh the separation of powers issues inherent in the requests — suggesting that Congress’s power to investigate the president is not unlimited. The ruling also sent that case back to the lower courts for further consideration.

That means Trump’s much-sought-after tax returns will almost certainly remain under wraps until after the election in November.

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July 10, 2020 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (10)

Virtual Memorial Service Today Celebrating The Life Of Michael Lang (Chapman)

Following up on my previous post, Death Of Mike Lang (Chapman):

Remembering Professor Michael Lang

September 17, 1951 - June 28, 2020

 

It is with great sadness that we report Chapman University Fowler School of Law Professor Michael Lang passed away on June 28 due to complications from a recent stroke. A faculty member since 2002, Professor Lang was the founding director of the law school’s Tax LL.M. program and taught such courses as Federal Income Taxation, Ethics in Tax Practice, and Corporate Taxation.

Prior to joining Chapman, he taught at nine different law schools over the course of his career, including 19 years at the University of Maine School of Law, where he also served for a time as associate dean for academic affairs. Before entering the legal academy, Professor Lang practiced law at the global law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. He received his B.A. from Harvard University and his JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif.

A virtual memorial service for Professor Lang, hosted by the Fowler School of Law, will be held via Zoom on Friday, July 10 at 10:30 a.m. PDT. We hope you can join us to celebrate his life and career. [You can join me at the virtual memorial service here.]

Update:  Dean Matt Parlow announced at the service that Chapman Law School will honor Mike by awarding each year the Michael Lang Excellence in Scholarship Award.

July 10, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Blank Presents Automated Legal Guidance Today At The Indiana/Leeds Summer Zoom Tax Workshop Series

Blank520Joshua D. Blank (UC-Irvine) presents Automated Legal Guidance (with Leigh Osofsky (North Carolina)) today as part of the Indiana/Leeds Summer Zoom Tax Workshop Series hosted by Leandra Lederman (Indiana) and Leopoldo Parada (Leeds):

Through online tools, virtual assistants and other technology, governments increasingly rely on artificial intelligence to help the public understand and apply the law. The Internal Revenue Service, for example, encourages taxpayers to seek answers regarding various tax credits and deductions through its online “Interactive Tax Assistant.” The U.S. Army directs individuals with questions about enlistment to its virtual guide, “Sgt. Star.” And the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services suggests that potential green card holders and citizens speak with its interactive chatbot, “Emma.” Through such automated legal guidance, the government seeks to provide advice to the public at a fraction of the cost of employing human beings to perform these same tasks.

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July 9, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Galle: The Agency Costs Of Forever Philanthropy

Brian D. Galle (Georgetown), The Quick (Spending) and the Dead: The Agency Costs of Forever Philanthropy:

This Essay offers new empirical evidence of the social cost of forever philanthropy, that is, of institutions that long outlive their founders. Drawing on a relatively unique dataset of foundation donors, and combining it with a large archive of tax returns filed by private foundations, I search for evidence that managers of long-lasting organizations depart significantly from the preferences of the organization’s supporters. I find that a firm’s overhead, or the ratio of administrative expenses to grants made, jumps by about 12% as soon as the organization’s last living donor dies. Payout rates, or the share of assets spent each year, move sharply in the opposite direction, falling about 7% at that time.

I interpret these findings as evidence of substantial agency costs. Since the timing of the donor’s death is relatively random, these outcomes offer convincing causal evidence that the ability of a donor to monitor her foundation’s managers importantly affects whether those managers follow her wishes. I argue that overhead and payout changes in the direction I observe strongly suggest that managers, once free from direct oversight, are operating the firm for their own comfort and security. Thus, by unnaturally extending the lifespan of foundations, law is encouraging wasteful allocation of taxpayer-supported charitable resources.

Therefore, I suggest several policy options that would reduce the agency-cost problem.

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July 9, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | 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.  Here is the new list (through July 1, 2020) 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 (Michigan)  191,980 Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) 7,554
2 Dan Shaviro (NYU) 120,857 Lily Batchelder (NYU) 5,173
3 Lily Batchelder (NYU) 116,974 David Kamin (NYU) 4,892
4 David Gamage (Indiana-Bloom.) 116,895 D. Dharmapala (Chicago) 4,135
5 Daniel Hemel (Chicago) 116,579 Daniel Hemel (Chicago) 3,836
6 Darien Shanske (UC-Davis) 110,214 Ruth Mason (Virginia) 3,485
7 David Kamin (NYU) 105,294 Bridget Crawford (Pace) 3,183
8 Cliff Fleming (BYU)    104,927 Diane Ring (Boston College) 2,773
9 Manoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings) 102,094 David Gamage (Indiana-Bloom.) 2,696
10 Rebecca Kysar (Fordham) 100,922 Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College)  2,680
11 Ari Glogower (Ohio State) 99,709 Hugh Ault (Boston College) 2,598
12 Michael Simkovic (USC) 44,553 Richard Ainsworth (BU) 2,446
13 D. Dharmapala (Chicago) 41,163 Dan Shaviro (NYU) 2,189
14 Paul Caron (Pepperdine) 37,011 Brad Borden (Brooklyn) 1,977
15 Louis Kaplow (Harvard) 33,399 Robert Sitkoff (Harvard) 1,909
16 Richard Ainsworth (BU) 30,210 Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)  1,867
17 Ed Kleinbard (USC) 26,933 Manoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings) 1,728
18 Vic Fleischer (UC-Irvine) 26,196 Margaret Ryznar (Indiana-Indy)    1,658
19 Jim Hines (Michigan) 25,209 Louis Kaplow (Harvard) 1,607
20 Brad Borden (Brooklyn) 24,765 Paul Caron (Pepperdine)   1,442
21 Robert Sitkoff (Harvard) 24,378 Michael Simkovic (USC) 1,425
22 Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.) 24,373 Ari Glogower (Ohio State) 1,424
23 Bridget Crawford (Pace) 24,271 Cliff Fleming (BYU) 1,420
24 Gladriel Shobe (BYU) 24,186 Rebecca Kysar (Fordham) 1,418
25 Richard Kaplan (Illinois) 23,768 Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.) 1,311

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July 9, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings, Tax Rankings, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

AALS Hosts Virtual Panel Today On Inclusion And Addressing Racism In The Federal Income Tax Course

The AALS Tax Section hosts a Zoom panel today on Inclusion and Addressing Racism in the Federal Income Tax Course at 1:00 pm ET:

AALS (2020)The AALS Tax Section will convene a panel discussion on classroom inclusion and how to identify and address policies with racist implications in the Federal Income Tax Law course. It may also discuss issues relating to who takes tax courses in law school. Many colleagues have been spurred by Jeremy Bearer-Friend’s post to the TaxProf email list about inclusive course design, and this panel seeks to connect course design choices to the specific context of tax classes.

The session will have two parts. The first (about forty minutes) will provide an overview that touches on casebook selection and syllabus goals. Each panelist will speak briefly about what they have done in their classrooms, with a focus on specific examples. The second part (about thirty minutes) will feature a moderator-panelist exchange during which the moderator will pose questions that have been submitted to panelists in advance of the panel.

Speakers:

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July 9, 2020 in Conferences, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Bearer-Friend Presents In-Kind Taxpaying: Lessons And Risks Online Today At Ohio State

Jeremy Bearer-Friend (George Washington) presents In-Kind Taxpaying: Lessons and Risks online at Ohio State today as part of its Summer Workshop Series:

BearerFriend (2020)This Article examines non-cash remittance of tax obligations (ie; paying taxes "in-kind"). It begins by defining in-kind taxpaying, describing the early roots of in-kind taxpaying, and documenting the broad variety of inkind taxpaying in the US. It then discusses the lessons and risks of in-kind taxpaying. In doing so, this Article makes three contributions. First, it improves our definition of taxpaying by identifying the wide variety of inkind remittances that already occur in our current tax system, offering a taxonomy for how to understand in-kind remittances within a modern economy that relies primarily on cash taxes. Second, it refutes the presumption that in-kind remittance of tax obligations is not viable, thus expanding the tax tools available to local, state, and federal governments and demonstrating how narrow presumptions about tax remittance have predetermined core tax policy choices. Third, it confronts the substantial dangers of in-kind taxpaying, using these risks to propose new principles for limiting the design and administration of in-kind taxpaying.

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July 8, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

South Carolina Law Review Call For Papers: Taxation, Finance, And Racial Justice

South Carolina (2019)The South Carolina Law Review will host its 2021 Virtual Symposium on February 19, 2021, at the University of South Carolina School of Law, hosted on Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. The symposium will specifically examine the intersection of tax law and policy and racial (in)justice at the local, state, and federal levels.

Tax law and policy plays an essential role in defining the ways in which individuals relate to and support one another. Revenue needs and spending policy are inextricably entwined and reflect and reinforce a society’s understanding of what each individual owes to and is owed by the society in which she lives. How tax defines income, whom it taxes, their relative contributions, and the activities that our tax system chooses to subsidize or not create countless points of overlap between tax and racial justice. The goal of this symposium is to critically examine the intersection of tax law and policy, finance, and racial justice through both a chronicling of the past and detailing pathways to reform. Topics may include (but are not limited to): the past and current impact of federal tax law and policy on historically-marginalized groups, the role of state tax systems in exacerbating and/or perpetuating racial injustice, and how tax law may be reimagined to advance racial justice at the state and federal levels.

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July 8, 2020 in Conferences, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Effect of U.S. Tax Reform On The Tax Burdens Of U.S. Domestic And Multinational Corporations

Scott Dyreng (Duke), Fabio B. Gaertner (Wisconsin), Jeffrey L. Hoopes (North Carolina) & Mary Vernon (Wisconsin), The Effect of U.S. Tax Reform on the Tax Burdens of U.S. Domestic and Multinational Corporations:

We quantify the net effect of recent U.S. tax reform on the tax rates of public U.S. corporations and find they decreased by 7.5 to 11.4 percentage points on average following tax reform. Further, we separately examine the effect of tax reform on purely domestic firms and multinational firms because some key provisions only affect multinational firms. We find both sets of firms benefited from tax reform, although domestics benefited the most. We also find the entirety of multinational tax savings stemmed from tax savings on their domestic operations, not as a result of more favorable taxation of international income. We also find no changes in the federal tax burden on foreign income for firms most likely to be subject to the new anti-abuse provisions. Overall, our findings suggest that despite the recent overhaul in international taxation, the federal tax burden on the foreign earnings of U.S. corporations appears to have been largely unaffected.

Figure 1

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July 8, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Video Presentations: 23rd Annual Critical Tax Theory Conference At Florida

You can view the Zoom video presentations at the 23rd Annual Critical Tax Theory Conference hosted by the University of Florida Levin College of Law on April 10-11, 2020:

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July 7, 2020 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Shaviro: What Are Minimum Taxes, And Why Might One Favor Or Disfavor Them?

Daniel Shaviro (NYU), What Are Minimum Taxes, and Why Might One Favor or Disfavor Them?:

Minimum taxes (including global minimum taxes) have serious drawbacks, and generally make sense, if at all, only if otherwise superior options must be ruled out for reasons of optics or political economy. Yet, given the “compared to what?” question that haunts all real-world tax policy-making, one cannot reasonably say that they should never be used. Still, any such use should generally be contingent, reluctant, and based on understanding their structural deficiencies.

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July 7, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

AALS Call For Papers: New Voices In Taxation

AALS (2018)

Call For Papers: New Voices in Taxation Panel
AALS Section on Taxation/2021 Annual Meeting

The AALS Section on Taxation is pleased to announce the following Call for Papers. Selected papers will be presented at a works-in-progress session at the 2021 AALS Annual Meeting from January 5 through 9. While AALS has not made a decision about whether the conference will be held in person, selected presenters will have the opportunity to present remotely. This program will provide panelists the opportunity to present their work and receive feedback from senior colleagues in the field.

Eligibility: Scholars teaching at AALS member schools or non-member fee-paid schools with seven or fewer years of full-time teaching experience as of the submission deadline are eligible to submit papers. (Non-tenure track teaching fellowships count for this deadline.). For co-authored papers, all authors must satisfy the eligibility criteria. While we welcome submissions from previous panelists, we will give a preference to scholars whose work has not been selected for a previous new voices panel.

Due date: 5 p.m. PDT, Thursday, August 20, 2020.

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July 7, 2020 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 6, 2020

Black Families Pay Significantly Higher Property Taxes Than White Families

Washington Post, Black Families Pay Significantly Higher Property Taxes Than White Families, New Analysis Shows:

State by state, neighborhood by neighborhood, black families pay 13 percent more in property taxes each year than a white family would in the same situation, a massive new data analysis shows.

Black-owned homes are consistently assessed at higher values, relative to their actual sale price, than white homes, according to a new working paper by economists Troup Howard of the University of Utah and Carlos Avenancio-León of Indiana University.

Dorothy Brown, an Emory University law professor who researches systemic racism in tax policy and was not involved in this study, sees the same pervasive effect. “The structure of the property tax system operates to disadvantage black Americans,” she said. “That’s how structural racism is. It’s built into the system. The property tax system itself discriminates against black Americans.”

Troup Howard (Utah) & Carlos Avenancio-León (Indiana), The Assessment Gap: Racial Inequalities in Property Taxation:

We use panel data covering 118 million homes in the United States, merged with geolocation detail for 75,000 taxing entities, to document a nationwide “assessment gap” which leads local governments to place a disproportionate fiscal burden on racial and ethnic minorities. We show that holding jurisdictions and property tax rates fixed, black and Hispanic residents nonetheless face a 10–13% higher tax burden for the same bundle of public services.

Property Tax

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July 6, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax News, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (14)

WSJ: Tax Lawyer Ed Kleinbard Reinvented Himself As A Crusading Professor

Following up on my previous posts:

Wall Street Journal (James Hagerty), Tax Lawyer Reinvented Himself as a Crusading Professor (July 4, 2020):

Traveling through Europe as a boy in the 1960s, Edward Kleinbard cultivated a precocious interest in medieval history and instructed his parents on which “shabby abbeys” they should appreciate.

The young scholar later aspired to become a history professor. His father, Martin Kleinbard, a partner at the law firm of Paul Weiss, cautioned that academic pay might not allow him to indulge expensive tastes in bicycles and travel. So Edward Kleinbard enrolled in law school at Yale.

Those studies launched him into a 30-year career as a prominent Wall Street tax lawyer at the law firm Cleary Gottlieb. Mr. Kleinbard finally entered academia as a law professor at the University of Southern California in 2009. The delay in launching his academic career was “just long enough for me to have something useful to say,” he wrote. ...

Mr. Kleinbard died June 28 at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 68 years old and had been under treatment for cancer. Shortly before his death, he completed another book—What’s Luck Got to Do With It?—due to be published [by Oxford University Press] in 2021. ...

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July 6, 2020 in Obituaries, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lesson From The Tax Court: Being Too Smart Precludes Innocent Spouse Relief


LifeGrowing up, I was taught to value intelligence.  My dad even had a sign in his office like the one to the right: his read “life is hard, especially if you’re stupid.” 

Being smart surely brings many advantages in life, but we learn today why it serves as a disadvantage when seeking spousal relief under §6015.  Getting spousal relief is hard; it's harder if you are smart. 

In John E. Rogers and Frances L. Rogers v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2020-91 (June 18, 2020) (Judge Goeke), the court denied spousal relief to Mrs. Rogers because it found her too smart to qualify.  It is a useful lesson as many of us prepare our own joint returns for 2019. 

Details below the fold.

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July 6, 2020 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 5, 2020

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 new papers debuting on the list at #4 and #5:

  1. SSRN Logo (2018)[312 Downloads]  The Legality of Digital Taxes in Europe, by Ruth Mason (Virginia) & Leopoldo Parada (Leeds)
  2. [275 Downloads]  COVID-19 and Us Tax Policy: What Needs to Change?, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)
  3. [168 Downloads]  Coronavirus, Telecommuting, and the 'Employer Convenience' Rule, by Edward Zelinsky (Cardozo) (reviewed by Young Ran (Christine) Kim (Utah) here)
  4. [142 Downloads]  Taxation Of The Digital Economy: Adapting A 21st-Century Tax System To A Twenty-First Century Economy, by Assaf Harpaz (S.J.D. 2020, Duke)
  5. [125 Downloads]  Are Two Employers Better than One? An Empirical Assessment of Multiple-Employer Retirement Plans, by Natalya Shnitser (Boston College)

July 5, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 4, 2020

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Trump’s Unsupported Claim About Opportunity Zone Investments

FactCheck.org, Trump’s Unsupported Claim About Opportunity Zone Investments:

FactCheck.org LogoAt his rally in Tulsa on June 20, President Donald Trump asserted without evidence that $100 billion had been invested in opportunity zones under a federal program that provides tax incentives to encourage development in low-income neighborhoods.

That number is far higher than other estimates of the total, and Trump, his administration and his campaign have furnished no evidence to back up the claim. ...

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July 4, 2020 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, July 3, 2020

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Kim Reviews Rethinking Tax For The Digital Economy After COVID-19 By Magalhães & Christians

This week, Young Ran (Christine) Kim (Utah) reviews a new work by Tarcísio Diniz Magalhães (McGill) & Allison Christians (McGill), Rethinking Tax for the Digital Economy After COVID-19 (June 2020).

6a00d8341c4eab53ef022ad3a74c80200d-300wi (1)The coronavirus recession has brought many challenges, including economic and fiscal crisis. Still, there are winners during this difficult time. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in full scale leading to a nationwide lockdown starting in March, stock prices plummeted sharply for all but a handful of companies. Compare the year-to-date chart of the S&P 500 with that of Zoom, Netflix, and Amazon—companies that are thriving despite the pandemic. The exceptional performance of these companies is seemingly a “windfall” arising from the extreme restrictive measures governments had to impose on other sectors of the economy. As one possible solution for the fiscal crisis, prominent scholars, such as Reuven Avi-Yonah, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, as well as Melani Cammett and Evan Lieberman, have proposed to revive excess profits taxes. In Rethinking Tax for the Digital Economy After COVID-19, co-authors Tarcísio Diniz Magalhães and Allison Christians extend the excess profits tax proposal to the international domain and argue that the world needs to adopt a "Global Excess Profits Tax” (GEP Tax). Magalhães and Christians' paper was presented yesterday at the Indiana/Leeds Summer Tax Workshop Series (the Workshop), hosted by Leandra Lederman (Indiana – Maurer) and Leopoldo Parada (Leeds).

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July 3, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Christians Presents Rethinking Tax for the Digital Economy After COVID-19 Today At The Indiana/Leeds Summer Zoom Tax Workshop Series

Allison_christians_2019Allison Christians (McGill) presents Rethinking Tax for the Digital Economy After COVID-19 (with Tarcisio Diniz Magalhaes (McGill)) today as part of the Indiana/Leeds Summer Zoom Tax Workshop Series hosted by Leandra Lederman (Indiana) and Leopoldo Parada (Leeds):

Before COVID-19 arrived, policymakers from around the world were busy working on the makings of a new global tax consensus to reflect structural changes in the world economy as a result of the rise of digitalization. COVID-19 disrupted this process by delivering a shock that resulted in major contractions for most firms even as it created enormous windfalls for others, prompting some to call for excess profits taxes, usually associated with wartime economies, as a corrective. Yet the contemporary context for excess profits taxes is fundamentally global today, in a way that excess profit taxation during the world war period was not. As such, to effectively address the fiscal crisis brought on by COVID-19, the world needs a “global excess profits tax”—a GEP tax. This article argues that the vocabulary, the technical tools, and the political determination that were being built for the digital economy can and should be adapted to formulate a GEP tax.

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July 2, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Avi-Yonah, Driessen, Fleming, Peroni & Shay: Why R&D Should Be Allocated To Subpart F And GILTI

Stephen E. Shay (Harvard), Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan), Patrick Driessen, J. Clifton Fleming, Jr. (BYU) & Robert J. Peroni (Texas), Why R&D Should Be Allocated to Subpart F and GILTI, 167 Tax Notes Fed. 2081 (June 22, 2020):

In this article, the authors critically appraise the government’s proposal not to allocate research and development deductions to subpart F inclusions and global intangible low-taxed income for foreign tax credit limitation purposes. They say the proposal is an unprecedented interpretation of the statute unsupported by any relevant legislative history that would radically change an R&D allocation method in place since 1977. They argue that the justifications provided in the proposed regulations’ preamble do not stand up to scrutiny.

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July 2, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

L.A. Times Farewell To Ed Kleinbard (USC)

Following up on Monday's post, Death Of Ed Kleinbard (USC):  Los Angeles Times (Michael Hiltzik), Farewell to USC’s Ed Kleinbard, 68, a Peerless Champion of the Public Interest

Kleinbard (2015)A couple of things set Ed Kleinbard apart from the army of tax experts who spend their hours delving into the minutiae of tax law.

For one thing, he was smarter than most of the others. But more important, having developed his store of knowledge at an elite corporate law firm and then as a top congressional advisor, he chose to deploy it in the public interest — as a professor of law at USC, as a widely-read commentator on tax policy and as the author of an indispensable book on how to make fiscal policy function for the betterment of American life.

Kleinbard died Monday at 68, following a long battle with cancer. He had been my guide through the thickets of tax policy since I first profiled him in 2014 and a source for dozens of columns since then. He was always gracious, lucid and amusing when I pestered him for his insights, even during his bouts with illness toward the end. His passing will be profoundly felt by his family, his colleagues, my readers and a world that is immeasurably poorer for the loss.

Let’s learn why.

We can begin with his career trajectory. After graduating from Yale Law School in 1976, he moved into corporate law, rising to a partnership at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. In 2007 he jumped to the public sector as chief of staff to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, then joined USC’s Gould School of Law in 2009.

“Only people who are practicing law at a very high level know exactly how corporations do things like move income around to minimize taxes and the other tax games major corporations play,” says Kleinbard’s friend, cycling companion and USC Law colleague Gregory Keating. “And most of the people who have that kind of knowledge are working with the companies. Ed had that expertise and was committed to coming up with solutions as an academic and a policy person that were public-spirited and public-minded.”

Coupled with that was an engaging persona that his colleagues remembered as “funny, loyal, passionate, and acerbic,” as Daniel N. Shaviro of NYU Law School put it in a valedictory on the TaxProf blog.

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July 2, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Irish Money Funnel

Irish Money Funnel:

Irish Money Funnel, produced by Spin Casino Ireland, takes a look at some of the world's biggest companies and shows how Ireland's low corporation tax rate could be the secret behind their success.

Below is a comparison of some of the biggest companies in tech, food and drink based on the percentage of total revenue which is raised in the UK and Ireland. Ireland is often used as a base by multinational companies due to its low corporation tax rate of 12.5%. Comparatively, the UK has a tax rate for companies of 19% and the US even higher at 21%.

Apple

July 1, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times: Philanthropy Rises In Pandemic As Donors Heed The Call For Help

New York Times, Philanthropy Rises in Pandemic as Donors Heed the Call for Help:

CoronavirusWhen the coronavirus prompted states to order residents to stay at home in March, unemployment surged around the country as huge parts of the economy slowed or stopped. Soon after, there were calls for philanthropists, charitably inclined people and even occasional donors to accelerate any giving they were planning to do.

They stepped up, it turns out, giving more and giving faster then they typically do.

The needs were urgent. Virus-related charities and social service agencies, like food banks, were thrust into an immediate role whose size and scope they were not prepared for. At the same time, arts organizations and other nonprofit groups that depend on sales of tickets to their shows and productions suddenly had no audience.

To encourage donations, the CARES Act expanded the amount of cash contributions that could be taken as a tax deduction. But the focus of the call to action was firmly on foundations and donor-advised funds, which have huge pools of money that can go only to charity.

Now three months after the initial outbreak, two reports show that Americans gave at a rate and a level that eclipsed donations during the 2008 recession and after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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July 1, 2020 in Coronavirus, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

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July 1, 2020 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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July 1, 2020 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Latest Data Shows That The Tax Cuts And Jobs Act Did Not Dampen Charitable Giving

Tax Foundation, Latest Data Shows That the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Did Not Dampen Charitable Giving:

Americans are very generous people, and they give despite the reduced tax benefits of giving. That’s the takeaway from Giving USA’s latest annual report on the charitable contributions of individuals, corporations, and foundations. Altogether, Americans contributed nearly $450 billion to charitable causes in 2019. This is a record level of giving in nominal terms; adjusting for inflation, it is the second-highest amount ever after 2017.

Of the various donor types, individual donors were the most generous. They contributed about $310 billion to charitable causes in 2019, also a record amount in nominal terms. This was not supposed to happen according to many in the charitable community who predicted that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) would lead to less charitable giving.

Tax Foundation

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July 1, 2020 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Rethinking Privilege For Tax Professionals

Samuel Singer (University of Ottawa), Rethinking Privilege for Tax Professionals: A Tax Policy Perspective:

In Canada, information exchanged between an accountant and a client, while confidential under professional codes of conduct, is not privileged unless it falls within limited common law exceptions. Some countries have legislated to extend limited privilege to accountants, but Canada has not yet done so. This paper uses tax policy principles to critically evaluate the differential treatment of lawyer-client and accountant-client relationships under the rules of privilege in Canada. From a fairness perspective, the distinct treatment of taxpayer information based on the tax advisor consulted is inequitable. Differences in access to privilege create distortions in the tax advice market and increase complexity.The paper also identifies justifications for not extending privilege to accountants.

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June 30, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Death Of Mike Lang (Chapman)

Los Angeles Times Obituary, Michael B. Lang:

LangSeptember 17, 1951 — June 28, 2020. Born in Washington, DC, he was the son of Sue and Ezra Lang. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Harvard College, and the Neshaminy High School in Langhorne, PA. He was a full-time faculty member of Chapman University School of Law since 2002. Prior to that he taught at several other law schools including the University of Maine where he served as associate dean and Professor of Law. Professor Lang was active in the American Bar Association Section of Taxation where he held several committee chair posts and served as moderator of many panels. He was the author of numerous books and articles on taxation. Michael was an avid reader, tennis player, environmental champion and foodie. He will be remembered for his wit, intelligence, and kind heart.

He is survived by his son Leonard Lang, daughter Julie Lang, and his brother, Jonathan Lang.A memorial service is planned for 2021 at Hillside Memorial park in Los Angeles, CA. Memorial donations in lieu of flowers may be made to any organization designed to protect the environment.

You may leave a message of condolence for Mike's family here.

Message from Chapman University Provost Glenn Pfeiffer:

The Fowler School of Law mourns the loss of Professor Mike Lang, who passed away due to complications from a stroke he suffered last week.

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June 30, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax, Tax News, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (6)

Monday, June 29, 2020

Death Of Ed Kleinbard (USC)

From Joe Bankman (Stanford):

Kleinbard (2015)I am sorry to report that my great friend (and co-author), Ed Kleinbard (USC), died last night.  The cause of death was cancer.

Ed was a towering presence in our field and is well known to members of this group.  He had every ability a tax lawyer and academic could want: an amazing knowledge of doctrine, great analytic skills, and great passion.  He was a wonderful writer: clear, folksy, funny, and rhetorically strong.  He was motivated by a strong belief in justice and equal opportunity. 

I am sure that there will be a festchrist in his honor and that we will have an opportunity to reflect on his contributions.  I didn't ask the family anything about memorial services. I am guessing it will be small, private and (like everything else these days) on-line.   I would guess that his wish for us would be to work for tax and fiscal reform and justice -- and to consult his many works for guidance.

I got to know Ed well after moving to Southern California. He graciously agreed to speak at Pepperdine three times:  at my tax policy workshop series in 2015 and 2017, and most poignantly at the Critical Tax Conference in 2019 in the midst of his long battle with cancer. As Joe says, Ed was a towering presence in every sense, but what I will remember most is his biting wit, self-deprecation, and abiding belief that "we are better then this." 

Dan Shaviro (NYU), In Memory of Ed Kleinbard:

I wanted to express my very great grief, both personally and professionally, regarding the death of Ed Kleinbard, who succumbed last night to a vicious cancer that he had been fiercely, bravely, and creatively battling for many years.

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June 29, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (10)

National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins Delivers Her First Report To Congress

TAS

IR 2020-132 (June 29, 2020), National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins Delivers Her First Report to Congress; Identifies COVID-19 Challenges, CARES Act, and Taxpayer First Act Implementation As Priority Issues For Taxpayers:

National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins today released her first report to Congress, identifying taxpayer challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the IRS's implementation of the Taxpayer First Act as priority issues the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) plans to focus on in the coming year. The report also assesses the 2020 filing season, identifies other TAS areas of focus, and includes the IRS's responses to administrative recommendations proposed in the National Taxpayer Advocate's 2019 annual report.

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June 29, 2020 in Congressional News, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lesson From The Tax Court: Cheshire Cat Jurisdiction Over Passport Revocation Petitions

Tennel_CheshireCongress keeps expanding the Tax Court’s subject matter jurisdiction.  A recent expansion came in 2015 in the cutesy-cutesy named Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act, get it?), 129 Stat. 1312.  There Congress created §7345 as a revenue offset.  That new section authorizes the IRS to periodically give lists of seriously delinquent taxpayers to the State Department, who is then supposed to deny their passport applications or even yank their passports.  Taxpayers upset at the IRS ratting them out to the State Department can seek judicial review either in the Tax Court or in a federal district court.

Section 7345 is simple in theory but complex in execution.  Last week’s case of Vivian Ruesch v. Commissioner, 154 T.C. No. 13 (June 25, 2020) (Judge Lauber) teaches that the Tax Court’s §7345 jurisdiction is like the Cheshire Cat: it can appear and disappear multiple times with respect to the same taxpayer and the same tax liabilities.  Details below the fold.

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June 29, 2020 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup