TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Darryll Jones Named Finalist For Florida A&M Deanship

Darryll-JonesFollowing up on my previous post:  Orlando Sentinel, Three Finalists Chosen for Dean at FAMU Law School:

The search for the next Florida A&M University Law School dean has been narrowed down to three finalists, according to the school. They are:

  • Angela Felecia Epps, a law professor at University of Arkansas at Little Rock's law school.
  • Darryll Jones, the interim dean at the FAMU Law School since July 1. Before that, he was a [tax] law professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the school.
  • Willajeanne McLean, the University of Connecticut School of Law's interim dean from 2012-13.

October 4, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

4th Annual Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers Conference: Building On The Foundations For Practice


The 4th Annual Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers Conference: Building on the Foundations for Practice concluded yesterday in Denver. Pepperdine is one of 35 law school consortium memberss, almost a quarter of which are in California (Golden Gate, McGeorge, Pepperdine, Southwestern, Stanford, UC-Hastings, UC-Irvine, USC):

In 2014, Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers launched Foundations for Practice, an ambitious national project to identify the foundations entry-level lawyers need for practice.

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October 4, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 878

IRS Logo 2Washington Examiner, Jordan: Congress Will Impeach IRS' Koskinen:

This Congress will impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Rep. Jim Jordan, a member of the House Oversight Committee, told a group of students from the Young America's Foundation Saturday.

"It is something that has to be done," said the Ohio Republican. "If we don't hold some people accountable in the executive branch for the executive overreach we've seen in [the Obama] administration, then they'll never get the message."

Lois Lerner, the central figure at the heart of the IRS' targeting scandal, "did what a lot of people do when they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar; she tried to lie," said Jordan. "She said it wasn't me; it wasn't Washington; it was the folks in Cincinnati" that directed the IRS' illegal targeting of conservative groups.

Lerner said "it was those rogue agents in Cincinnati; a complete lie," he said. Then she took the Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself in front of the House Oversight Committee when she was brought in for questioning.

"When you have the central figure lie, and then take the Fifth, it kind of puts a premium on getting the documents, the records, the communications for what went on here," said Jordan.

In the aftermath of the investigation, the IRS issued a preservation order requiring all communications be preserved. But despite all this, in March 2014 the IRS destroyed 422 backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 emails, the Treasury Department inspector general found. ...

The House is going to pursue impeachment because there needs to be consequences for the egregious behavior of the IRS and "we think it's critical to preserving fundamental freedom, fundamental rights," said Jordan.

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October 4, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Tax Presentations At Midwestern Law & Economics Association Annual Meeting

KansasTax presentations at yesterday's Midwestern Law & Economics Association Annual Meeting at Kansas:

October 3, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TIGTA: IRS Improperly Withheld Information From Taxpayer FOIA Requests 12% Of The Time

TIGTAThe Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has released Fiscal Year 2015 Statutory Review of Compliance With the Freedom of Information Act (2015-30-084):

TIGTA is required to conduct periodic audits to determine whether the IRS properly denied written requests for taxpayer information pursuant to FOIA § 552(b)(7) and I.R.C. § 6103. The overall objectives of this audit were to determine whether the IRS improperly withheld information requested by taxpayers in writing, based on FOIA exemption (b)(3), in conjunction with I.R.C. § 6103, and/or FOIA exemption (b)(7) or by replying that responsive records were not available. Specifically, this included determining whether the IRS had adequate and effective policies and procedures to ensure that all of these requests were processed timely and that information was not improperly withheld. In addition, TIGTA determined whether IRS disclosure officers erroneously disclosed sensitive taxpayer information when responding to written FOIA, Privacy Act, or I.R.C. § 6103 information requests.

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October 3, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 877

IRS Logo 2Washington Examiner, IRS Needs a Housecleaning, Not Retention Bonuses:

Earlier this year, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen warned taxpayers that they would suffer delays and poor service from his agency during tax time. In doing so, he cited cuts to the IRS budget.

But as we noted at the time, this was a case of malingering and retaliation, not of real need at the IRS. The IRS had access to $500 million in fees that it could use to deliver needed services, but chose to use the money for a long list of other things.

One of those other things was bonuses for senior executives and nonunion managerial employees — a small line item, to be sure, but a rather incredible one to behold at an agency so publicly beset over widespread power-tripping and misconduct within its bureaucracy.

A few new details of the senior IRS bonus binge have finally come to light, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Tax Analysts. As the Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard reported Wednesday, the agency paid nearly $2 million in bonuses to these top employees between the time Koskinen took his post in late 2013 (amid the targeting scandal) and January 2015. During that period, 456 managerial employees received bonuses. Over the last five years, 1,269 such employees have gotten bonuses and 351 attorneys have received retention incentives, with a total value of $6 million. ...

In any case, an agency caught in such egregious misconduct as the IRS seems like a strange one to be giving bonuses to top staff. Just this week, the IRS has also been dinged in an inspector general investigation for failing to fulfill lawful FOIA requests properly more than 12 percent of the time. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the agency failed to give taxpayers the information to which they were entitled in eight out of 65 cases studied.

In the nearly three years since the targeting scandal was revealed, it has become clear that it was just a symptom of a much deeper problem at the IRS — a culture that lacks accountability, rewards failure, and persecutes the innocent. Like the Department of Veterans Affairs, it needs a thorough housecleaning, not retention bonuses.

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October 3, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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October 2, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rosier Picture For Fall 2016 Law School Admissions

KaplanKaplan Test Prep, Survey: Majority of Law Schools Predict Application Bump in Current Cycle, But They Also Predict at Least One Law School Will Shut Down:

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2015 survey of admissions officers at 120 law schools across the United States*, the vast majority of law school admissions officers predict that they are going to see something they haven’t seen in many years: an increase in applications. Nearly nine in 10 (88%) are confident that their law school will see a spike for the 2015-2016 application cycle, compared to the previous cycle. This level of optimism represents a dramatic reversal of opinion from Kaplan’s 2014 survey when only 46% expressed confidence that their law school would see an increase in applications over the previous cycle.  That spike that nearly half predicted didn’t come to fruition. In fact, the 2014 entering law school class was the smallest one in 40 years. ...

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October 2, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Boston College/ACTEC Symposium Today On The Centennial Of The Estate Tax: Perspectives And Recommendations

BCACTECThe Boston College Law Review and The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel are hosting a symposium today on The Centennial of the Estate Tax: Perspectives and Recommendations:

Keynote AddressMichael Graetz (Columbia), Death Taxes and Politics

Panel #1:  Is It Desirable to Tax the Gratuitous Transfer of Wealth During Life or at Death?

Panel #2:  Could Alternatives Other Than an Estate and Gift Tax Better Address Problems Associated with Wealth Concentration?

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October 2, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jimmy Kimmel Tricks Clinton Supporters Into Liking Trump’s Tax Plan

Throwing The Book At Brazil’s Tax Code

New York Times, Throwing the Book, Several Tons of It, at Brazil’s Tax Code:

Some tax lawyers in Brazil prefer to toil in obscurity, navigating a devilishly complex system that is added to nearly every day and then amended again, often in ways that contradict one another. On a continent known for its voluminous tax codes, Brazil stands out, ranking ahead of nations like Bolivia, Venezuela and Paraguay among contenders for the world’s most time-consuming tax regime.

But Vinicios Leoncio is not your normal Brazilian tax lawyer.

Fed up with the gargantuan bureaucracy that requires Brazilians to photocopy, notarize, authenticate and stamp a superabundance of documents related to their life, Mr. Leoncio is taking aim at a central element of Brazil’s red tape: the tax code. Embarking decades ago on a lonely crusade, he began documenting the absurdities of Brazil’s methods of collecting taxes.

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October 2, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 876

IRS Logo, Still No Word on GAB Emails to Left-Leaning Groups:

Conservative targets of Wisconsin’s political John Doe investigation were still waiting Wednesday for a judge’s decision on whether the state Government Accountability Board must turn over communications it had with liberal political groups.

Waukesha County Judge Lee Dreyfus Jr. was expected to rule two weeks ago, but the court doesn’t have Microsoft Outlook software, and the judge was unable to view the correspondence in question.

Attorneys for the GAB have since sent the documents in PDF.

Eddie Greim, attorney for conservative activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth, both plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging the GAB overstepped its authority in the unconstitutional John Doe probe, tells Wisconsin Watchdog the judge has yet to issue his decision.

On Sept. 15, the plaintiffs asked the judge to compel the accountability board to turn over communications it had with the Brennan Center for Justice and the Campaign Legal Center. ...

CLC claims to represent the public interest in strong enforcement of campaign finance laws. The group has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Soros-funded organizations. In 2010, the Campaign Legal Center joined other liberal groups asking the IRS to investigate the tax-exempt status of Republican-allied groups. Former IRS official Lois Lerner is accused of leading a campaign to target conservative groups filing as tax-exempt.

In July, the Wall Street Journal reported that GAB director Kevin Kennedy and Lerner were in contact between 2011 and 2013 — when the GAB assisted partisan prosecutors in investigating scores of conservatives and in raiding several of their homes.

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October 2, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

ABA Accreditation Committee OKs Merger Of William Mitchell And Hamline Law Schools

MitchellPress release, Update on Law School Combination:

The Accreditation Committee of the American Bar Association (ABA) has notified Hamline University that it is recommending the ABA Council give its acquiescence to the combination of Hamline University School of Law and William Mitchell College of Law. The ABA Council will consider this recommendation at its December meeting. If the Council grants its acquiescence, the combined law school, to be named Mitchell Hamline School of Law, could begin operations in early 2016.

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October 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

IRS Chief Counsel Blasted For Favorable Ruling On Total Return Swaps

IRS Office of Chief Counsel Logo (2015)Bond Buyer, IRS Chief Counsel Blasted for Favorable Ruling on Total Return Swaps:

Former Internal Revenue Service official Mark Scott is urging the IRS to revoke a private-letter ruling that was favorable for a total return swap, or TRS, arguing that they are "arbitrage schemes" that have "resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal tax benefits being stolen."

Scott, who spent 18 years at the IRS, was director of the tax-exempt bond office, or TEB, for several years before he left for private practice. He was also an ex-special assistant U.S. attorney for the Justice Department, who made the request in a blisteringly critical letter sent to William J. Wilkins, chief counsel in the IRS Office of Chief Counsel on Sept. 8. In an interview, Scott would not comment on whether he has launched a whistleblower case on TRS', but said this is irrelevant to his concerns about these transactions. ...

Scott's letter to Wilkins refers to the favorable but limited PLR 201502008 that was dated May 21, 2014, but not publicly released by the IRS until Jan. 9 of this year. The ruling did not identify the parties involved but concluded that an extension of a TRS entered into between a borrower and a bank at the same time the underlying tax-exempt bonds were sold "will not be an abusive arbitrage device."

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October 1, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thomas: User-Friendly Taxpaying

Kathleen DeLaney Thomas (North Carolina), User-Friendly Taxpaying:

This Article argues that policymakers could encourage better tax compliance by simplifying the process of paying taxes. Not only are the tax laws themselves confusing, but our interactions with the tax system can also be incredibly tedious and burdensome. Thus, even when taxpayers understand the relevant legal rules, complying with one’s tax obligations may still entail hours of entering information on returns, sifting through pages of instructions, or keeping records of numerous expenses. In addition to imposing enormous efficiency costs, these procedural burdens deter voluntary participation in the tax system. In light of the time and mental effort required, many taxpayers may decide that fully complying with their tax obligations is simply too much work. This tendency to avoid mental effort is supported by numerous behavioral studies. For example, research has shown that when individuals are mentally fatigued by burdensome tasks, they tend to cheat more, behave more passively, and have a harder time exercising self-control.

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October 1, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Chason: Taxing Losers

Florida Tax ReviewEric D. Chason (William & Mary), Taxing Losers, 18 Fla. Tax Rev. ___ (2016):

The U.S. tax system (like most in the world) benefits capital gains in two ways. Investors can defer paying tax until they “realize” any gain (typically by sale) rather than when the gain simply occurs via rising prices. And, individual investors pay a lower, preferred rate on their long-term capital gains as compared to their other ordinary income (like compensation or business profits).

Investors face a burden, though, with respect to their capital losses. Rather than allowing for unlimited capital loss deductions, the Internal Revenue Code largely forces investors to match their capital losses against their capital gains. Limits on capital losses could be justified in several ways. The most prominent justification holds that should not be able to “cherry pick” loss elements out of an overall winning portfolio. This Article seeks to clarify the nature of the cherry-picking argument. It drops “cherry picking” in favor of the somewhat more descriptive “loss harvesting” used in wealth management literature. We will imagine a world in which Congress does not force taxpayers to match losses against gains. In this world, taxpayers could harvest isolated losses whenever they arise and enjoy the benefits of loss deductions — even if the taxpayer has an overall winning portfolio. Using insights from option theory, we can estimate the cost of aggressive loss harvesting.

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October 1, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lupo: Law School Provides Solid Foundation For Civic Responsibility

National Law Journal op-ed:   Measure of Legal Education's Value Extends Far Beyond Big Law, by James Lupo (Northwestern):

Despite the critics, law school still provides a solid foundation for civic responsibility.

No one disputes that the ­economic model of legal education needs to be modified. Law schools have been slow to restructure their corner of the triangular relationship among the history of tuition increases (and how they are financed), the exorbitant starting salaries at law firms, and the extraordinarily high fees clients pay for the work of law school rock stars. But the fact is, law schools are making the required structural modifications and thinking deeply and creatively about their students' needs in an increasingly dynamic legal services sector.

The criticisms — constant and haranguing — are terribly shortsighted. They are premised on assessments of the initial value of a law school education, not the socially critical values law school ­teaches. Evaluated in this way, disheartening numbers are readily available. To look at real worth, much more perspective and nuance are needed.

Students who choose to come to law school despite all of the empirical gloom and doom are doing so for what have always been the right reasons — not because they are liberal arts majors at wit's end about a career path and not because law school is a reliable entree to social status and financial gain.

They are coming because they want to be advocates and problem solvers. They want to learn the sharp, analytical cast of mind law school teaches. They recognize that an ethical practice of law is central to the functioning of a system of ordered justice and how that ordered justice upholds the rule of law. They are returning to first principles. They seek values, not just immediate value; they seek the necessary qualities of leadership, not just leading roles at the top of an increasingly unreliable ladder of success.

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October 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

Gale, Kearney & Orszag: Increasing The Top Income Tax Rate Won't Reduce Income Inequality

William G. Gale, Melissa S. Kearney & Peter R. Orszag (all of The Brookings Institution), Would a Significant Increase in the Top Income Tax Rate Substantially Alter Income Inequality?:

The high level of income inequality in the United States is at the forefront of policy attention. This paper focuses on one potential policy response: an increase in the top personal income tax rate. We conduct a simulation analysis using the Tax Policy Center (TPC) microsimulation model to determine how much of a reduction in income inequality would be achieved from increasing the top individual tax rate to as much as 50 percent. We calculate the resulting change in income inequality assuming an explicit redistribution of all new revenue to households in the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution. The resulting effects on overall income inequality are exceedingly modest.

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October 1, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Federal Tax Law And Issues Related To The Commonwealth Of Puerto Rico

Senate LogoThe Senate Finance Committee held a hearing yesterday on Financial and Economic Challenges in Puerto Rico.  In connection with the hearing, the Joint Committee on Taxation released Federal Tax Law And Issues Related To The Commonwealth Of Puerto Rico (JCX-132-15):

This document ... provides an overview and analysis of Federal tax laws relating to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, summarizes recent prominent changes in Puerto Rican tax law, and describes the economy of Puerto Rico, in part by comparison to economic measures for the United States as a whole. ...

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October 1, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 875

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  More IRS Bonuses Revealed By Lawsuit, by Robert W. Wood:

Many Americans probably think the IRS shouldn’t be handing out bonuses. Not to Lois Lerner or a fired IRS Commissioner anyhow. But they did, and a lawsuit by Tax Analysts tried to get to the bottom of these and other IRS bonuses. Why a lawsuit?

Because the IRS stonewalled, as it not infrequently does. Tax Analysts asked nicely first and made a Freedom of Information Act request. But the IRS has high walls. Eventually, Tax Analysts brought a suit against the IRS to compel the agency to release records of bonuses to high-level executives since 2010.

Many of the bonuses can be traced to IRS Commissioner Koskinen, who took the helm of the IRS in December 2013. Most of the IRS bonuses were paid in February and March 2014, with 238 awards totaling $976,387. No further awards were recorded until November and January 2015, with 218 awards totaling $1,000,108.

In all, the IRS paid 1,269 performance awards and retention incentives to 351 chief counsel executive and nonunion managers. These amounts totaled $5.97 million between January 1, 2010, and February 2, 2015. The average performance award was $4,483. Yet individual awards ranged from $88 to $44,096. Individual recipients’ total awards ranged even more widely, from $250 to $285,688. For considerable detail on the bonuses, go here.

As you read about bonuses, you might recall other reports saying that 61% of IRS employees caught willfully violating the tax law aren’t fired, but may get promoted. You might find it even worse that Ms. Lois Lerner received $129,000 in bonuses. The former IRS official received $129,300 in bonuses between 2010 and 2013. As head of the IRS tax-exempt division at the heart of the targeting scandal, she received a 25% retention bonus each year—averaging $43,000 a year—on top of her regular salary.The IRS scandal broke in May 2013, but goes back to January 2010. The Supreme Court in Citizens United found it unconstitutional to ban free speech by corporations, unions and other organizations. Shortly thereafter, the IRS distributed a BOLO (Be on the Lookout) list for Tea Party organizations applying for tax exempt status. As the emails went awry, the fact that the IRS used instant messaging to hide internal communications was pooh-poohed by the administration.

Recently, the IRS says it “discovered” that Lois Lerner’s dog had an email account, in addition to her official account and personal email accounts. There was already an official IRS email account, and Lerner’s own private email account that the IRS had labeled ‘Lois Home.’ The ‘Toby Miles’ account? Toby is the dog, and Michael Miles is Ms. Lerner’s husband.

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October 1, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

2015 International Tax Competitiveness Ranking: U.S. Is 32 Out Of 34 OECD Countries

TFWall Street Journal editorial, American Tax Exceptionalism: The U.S. Again Ranks Near the Bottom on Corporate Competitiveness:

Another year of slow economic growth, and another year of zero progress reforming the U.S. tax system. This week the Tax Foundation will release its annual International Tax Competitiveness Index and once again the U.S. ranks a dismal 32nd out of 34 industrialized nations. ...

The index measures various factors that determine how friendly a government is to business and investment, including the amount of taxation and the complexity of tax rules. While Washington gets credit for refraining from a value-added tax on top of its other levies, the U.S. comes in dead last among the 34 developed countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) when it comes to taxing corporate income.

Tax Foundation, 2015 International Tax Competitiveness Index:


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September 30, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (3)

Zucman: Hidden Wealth Of Nations — The Scourge Of Tax Havens

Zucman CoverGabriel Zucman (UC-Berkeley), Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens (University of Chicago Press, Sept. 22, 2015):

We are well aware of the rise of the 1% as the rapid growth of economic inequality has put the majority of the world’s wealth in the pockets of fewer and fewer. One much-discussed solution to this imbalance is to significantly increase the rate at which we tax the wealthy. But with an enormous amount of the world’s wealth hidden in tax havens—in countries like Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Cayman Islands—this wealth cannot be fully accounted for and taxed fairly. No one, from economists to bankers to politicians, has been able to quantify exactly how much of the world’s assets are currently hidden—until now. Gabriel Zucman is the first economist to offer reliable insight into the actual extent of the world’s money held in tax havens. And it’s staggering.

In The Hidden Wealth of Nations, Zucman offers an inventive and sophisticated approach to quantifying how big the problem is, how tax havens work and are organized, and how we can begin to approach a solution. His research reveals that tax havens are a quickly growing danger to the world economy. In the past five years, the amount of wealth in tax havens has increased over 25%—there has never been as much money held offshore as there is today. This hidden wealth accounts for at least $7.6 trillion, equivalent to 8% of the global financial assets of households.

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September 30, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Feld: The Political Economy Of Tax Indexing For Inflation

Alan Feld (Boston University), Silent Tax Changes: The Political Economy of Indexing for Inflation:

The federal income tax adjusts many but not all of its dollar components automatically to account for inflation. In this article I analyze the benefits and burdens this process confers on some taxpayers and the political logic behind them. I discuss the choice of the proper index for making the adjustments, as well as the effects of the failure to adjust specific dollar amounts. I conclude that some adjustments have become overly generous, while unadjusted provisions suffer slow repeal, sometimes intentionally. Indexation thus can have the effect of tax legislation by stealth.

September 30, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Motro: How To Write A Law Article That Reads Like A Good Story

Journal of Legal Education (2014)Shari Motro (Richmond), The Three-Act Argument: How to Write a Law Article That Reads Like a Good Story, 64 J. Legal Educ. 707 (2015):

Why do many law articles — my own included — leave readers cold? One reason may be that they lack fundamental elements that make up a good story. They lack tension. They lack narrative arc. Over my years teaching seminars and exchanging drafts with colleagues, I’ve developed a recipe inspired by dramatic plot that helps me organize ideas into a form that better engages the reader. I’ve also found it to be conducive to a richer, more generative, more joyful writing process. I hope it does the same for you!

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September 30, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Men Cite Their Own Work More Than Women

Inside Higher Ed, Men Who Admire Their Own Work:

Numerous studies have found that men are more likely to think highly of themselves and their talents than are women when they evaluate themselves.

A new study finds that these patterns extend to self-citation, in which scholars cite their own past work in new studies.  Some scholars frown on the practice, while others note that there may be circumstances where such citations are necessary. But whether one has permissive or skeptical attitudes about self-citation, shouldn't the patterns be the same for men and women?

The study -- released Monday at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association -- found that 31 percent of men engage in self-citation, compared to only 21 percent of women.  [Molly King (Stanford), Shelley Correll (Stanford), Jennifer Jacquet (NYU), Carl Bergstrom (Washington) & Jevin West (Washington), Men Set Their Own Cites High: Gender and Self-Citation Across Fields and Over Time]


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September 30, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Fleischer: Trump Tax Plan A Triumph Of Showmanship Over Common Sense

Trump 3

Following up on Monday's post, Trump's Tax Plan: 'Tax Reform That Will Make America Great Again':  New York Times Deal Book:  Trump Tax Plan a Triumph of Showmanship Over Common Sense, by Victor Fleischer (San Diego):

A mercurial candidate needs a mercurial tax plan. Donald J. Trump’s proposal to overhaul the tax code fits the bill. But it would hardly raise the revenue needed to pay the nation’s invoices.

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September 30, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel: Breeding Ground For 67 Law Professors

Yale Journal on Regulation Blog:  The DOJ OLC College of Law, by Chris Walker (Ohio State):

On the administrative law professor email listserv, my colleague Peter Shane sparked an intriguing discussion about the impact of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) on administrative law scholarship and the legal academy more generally. ...

I’ve reproduced below that working list of 67 ... OLC alums who have since spent time as law professors. ... Is there another institution that has produced anywhere near as many law professors?  

September 30, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Bank: Shifty Moves — Sepp Blatter, Neymar, Google Flout Tax Rules

Steven Bank (UCLA), Shifty Moves: Sepp Blatter, Neymar, Google Flout Rules:

This past Friday, in what has unfortunately been an increasingly common phenomenon in the world of soccer, there were more highlights off the field than on it. The biggest news: The Swiss Attorney General’s Office formally announced that longtime FIFA president Sepp Blatter was under criminal investigation for his part in the FIFA corruption scandal. Prosecutors subjected Blatter to several hours of interrogation while conducting a search of his offices at the organization’s headquarters in Zurich.

Meanwhile, half a world away in Sao Paulo, a federal judge froze nearly $50 million of FC Barcelona star Neymar’s assets, declaring that Neymar had allegedly evaded as much as $16 million in taxes between 2011 and 2013 in connection with his 2013 transfer from the Brazilian club Santos to FC Barcelona. The allegations are similar to those levied against Lionel Messi in Spain, where a court recently ruled that there was sufficient evidence to permit the criminal prosecution of Messi and his father for tax fraud schemes designed to evade as much as $5.5 million in taxes. Fellow Barcelona star Javier Mascherano was also charged on Monday for avoiding taxes in Spain.

So what do these events have in common? Profit-shifting. ... So what [do profit-shifting by Blatter, Neymar, and Messi] have to do with Google (and Apple, and Microsoft, and Facebook, and countless other companies)? These profit-shifting transactions have in recent years become the bread and butter of multinational corporations, primarily to avoid high-tax jurisdictions, but sometimes to hide profits from investors or disguise illicit payments. ...

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September 30, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Graetz: Can A 20th Century Business Income Tax Serve A 21st Century Economy?

Michael J. Graetz (Columbia),  Can a 20th Century Business Income Tax Regime Serve a 21st Century Economy?, 30 Australian Tax Forum 551 (2015):

This article is the text of the Parsons Lecture given by Michael Graetz at the University of Sydney Law School in April 2015. In it the author reviews the contemporary challenges involved in making international tax policy. These challenges include the tensions of international tax competition whilst balancing both sound economic theory, and politics. The author explains how the 20th Century international tax system that we have is poorly equipped to cope with the 21st Century’s technologically impelled, integrated global economy.

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September 30, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 874

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Forget Lois Lerner, These IRS Agents Behaved REALLY Badly, by Robert W. Wood:

In any big organization, there are going to be mistakes, over-reaching, even some bad apples. As the media still debates how bad Lois Lerner was in the IRS targeting–while she received $129,000 in bonuses–there are other examples of bad IRS conduct. Alleged conduct anyway. For example, one IRS Agent in Seattle is facing criminal charges over an alleged scheme to extort cash from a medical marijuana dispensary for audit favors.

The Seattle Times reported that an IRS Agent named Paul Hurley, 42, attempted to squeeze tens of thousands of dollars out of a businessman for help with a delinquent tax bill. The IRS takes cases of misconduct seriously, for obvious reasons. Meanwhile, an IRS Agent in Tennessee has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman while performing an audit. Agent Samuel Garza was charged with sexual battery.

No matter how you spin it, these are further embarrassments for an agency that is still not over allegations of targeting and more. Even so, these alleged crimes may not be as colorful as the sex for lower taxes story spun by Vincent Burroughs. Vincent Burroughs claimed that his IRS auditor, Ms. Dora Abrahamson, flirted with him by phone and text, then sent him a selfie in her underwear.

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September 30, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sanchirico Presents Tax Inertia And Business Tax Reform Today At Columbia

SanchiricoChris William Sanchirico (Pennsylvania) presents  Tax Inertia: A General Framework with Specific Application to Business Tax Reform at Columbia today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov and Wojciech Kopczuk:

A surprising degree of bipartisan consensus has lately formed in the United States around two propositions of business tax reform: that something should be done about the “lockout” of US multinationals’ foreign earnings; and that the corporate income tax rate should be reduced. This paper questions whether these two propositions are really consistent.

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September 29, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ryznar Presents An Easy Solution To The Marriage Penalty Today At Indiana-Indianapolis

RyznarMargaret Ryznar (Indiana-Indianapolis) presents An Easy Solution to the Marriage Penalty at Indiana-Indianapolis today as part of its Faculty Colloquium Series:

The marriage penalty in the federal income tax continues to persist despite universal agreement that there is no place for it. This Article is modest yet revolutionary in its proposal to eliminate the marriage penalty: to create another tax filing status for two-income earning couples that earn an amount within a particular percentage of each other. This filing status would offer double the rates of single filers because it accommodates two incomes. Such a simple solution to the marriage penalty causes the least upheaval to the general legal framework that treats spouses as a single economic unit. It has the additional attributes of finally no longer penalizing a significant subset of women who work and marry. 

September 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Muller: The MBE Was Not 'Harder' Than Usual This Year

NCBEDerek Muller (Pepperdine), No, the MBA Was Not "Harder" Than Usual:

I frequently read comments, on this site and others, commenting that the bar exam was simply harder than usual. Specifically, I read many people, often law faculty (who didn't take the exam this year) or recent graduates (the vast majority of whom are taking the bar exam for the first time), insisting that the bar, especially the Multistate Bar Exam ("MBE") is "harder" than before.

Let's set aside, for now, and briefly, (1) rampant speculation, (2) cognitive biases suggesting that the instance in which someone is taking a multiple choice test that counts for something feels "harder" than ungraded practice, (3) erroneous comparisons between the MBE and bar prep companies, (4) retroactive fitting of negative bar results with negative bar experiences, or (5) the use of comparatives in the absence of a comparison.

Let's instead focus on whether the July 2015 bar exam was "harder" than usual. The answer is, in all likelihood, no--at least, almost assuredly, not in the way most are suggesting, i.e., that the MBE was harder in such a way that it resulted in lower bar passage rates. ...

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September 29, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

WSJ: Crunchtime For Global Tax-Avoidance Push

Wall Street Journal, Crunchtime for Global Tax-Avoidance Push:

Nearly 50 governments are set to agree this fall to a new set of rules to clamp down on tax avoidance among multinational corporations. Their chance of success, however, is unclear.

If the rules work as planned, they will help ensure big companies pay tax on profits where they are earned, boosting revenues for governments, particularly in larger countries. Advocates say the stricter rules will make for fairer competition between small and large companies, since the latter gain an advantage by being better able to avoid tax.

Far less certain is how widely the new rules will be applied, and whether they will boost government revenues after all. Also unclear is whether the U.S. will overcome opposition in Congress, where critics question the Treasury Department’s right to implement international rules not reflected in U.S. legislation.

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September 29, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yahoo To Pursue Alibaba Spinoff Without IRS Ruling

Hawaii Seeks To Hire Entry Level Or Lateral Tax Prof

Hawaii LogoThe University of Hawaii Law School is seeking to hire an entry level or lateral professor from among a variety of subject areas, including tax:

The University of Hawai'i is seeking an assistant, associate, or full professor for a tenure-track position. Term will begin August 1, 2016, or when the selected candidate is available. We encourage applications from persons interested in teaching, with particular attention to intellectual property, criminal law and procedure, trusts and estates, and tax areas.

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September 29, 2015 in Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Enrollment Plummets At Northeast Ohio Law Schools: Akron (-16%), Case (-36%), Cleveland (-39%)

Crain's Cleveland Business, Enrollment Is Falling at Northeast Ohio Law Schools:

Northeast Ohio’s law schools continue to see enrollments dwindle compared with the levels seen just a few years ago, but school officials and industry experts are hopeful the trend may soon turn around.

The consensus is the overall situation, here and nationwide, is worrisome, but not dire — yet.

Data from the University of Akron School of Law, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and Case Western Reserve University School of Law show that enrollments at those schools are down 3% to 6% from last year. More striking, though, are the decreases over the last several years.

Since 2010, total enrollment has dropped about 36% and 39% at Case Western Reserve and Cleveland-Marshall, respectively, and 16% at Akron. ...

Here are this fall’s total and first-year enrollment figures for J.D. programs:

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September 29, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (14)

Tax Profs Oppose Territorial Tax System, Offshore Profits Tax Relief

AFTFNews Release:

In an 11-page letter to Members of Congress, 24 international tax experts raise significant concerns about legislative proposals that would seek to close a six-year funding shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund by taxing $2.1 trillion in U.S. corporate offshore profits at a significant discount that would overhaul the way U.S. corporations would be taxed on their future offshore profits.

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September 29, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

NLJ: Law School Special Report

NLJNational Law Journal, Law Schools Special Report: Staying Sane, Before and After Graduation:

This week, we present a "how-to" for students and for lawyers starting their careers. Amid a tight job market and the high cost of legal education, entering the profession is not a decision to make lightly. But success, as you'll read, is not just about getting good grades and nailing the interview. It's about finding balance, enjoying the learning process and setting in motion a career that will cultivate a sense of purpose and professional fulfillment. It really is possible.

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September 29, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 873

IRS Logo 2Conservative HQ, Lois Lerner's 'Partners' and Her ‘Mini-Me’:

Conservatives who now know about the lawless, arrogant ex-federal bureaucrat lawyer Lois Lerner may wish to know that her “farm team” meets at the Washington Marriott Georgetown October 5 – 7.

Last week I wrote at American Thinker about the little-known organization called NASCO, the National Association of State Charity Officials. NASCO consists of government bureaucrats who, like Lois Lerner, are supposed to be nonpartisan, but frequently are statist partisans who abuse government power. They operate between conservatives and the causes they support, and too many show contempt for -- even ignorance of -- constitutional rights and the rule of law over them.  ...

Professor Paul Caron, who deserves a medal for his daily spot about The IRS Scandal at his TaxProf Blog, focused on an observation about the bullying methods used by some members of NASCO. I’ll expand a bit with more from the American Thinker piece:

It’s not just that NASCO considered itself a partner with “Dr. Evil” Lois Lerner so much as many of its members act like her “Mini-Me.” Lerner’s IRS was caught violating First Amendment rights of conservatives by demanding such things as the prayers they said at their meetings, and illegally disclosing to hostile blogs the confidential list of donors to the National Organization of Marriage. 

It is a common unethical practice employed by many NASCO members to, like Lerner, make demands for actions and production of documents, but refusing to cite legal authority, which gives cover to their lawlessness or even incompetence.  For example, one assistant attorney general sent a “civil investigative demand” for documents. The investigation statute required that she state her “cause” in her demand, which provides a modicum of Fourth Amendment protection. When I asked her to cite her “cause,” she cited to the law requiring her to state her cause. I wrote back suggesting she watch a few episodes of Law & Order to learn the law. 

Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Kremenak provides another good example. Charity regulators have authority to investigate misdeeds, of course, but not authority to violate the First or Fourth Amendments. Not only does Kremenak tell charities what to do and what documents to produce, she adamantly refuses even when asked to provide notice of her legal authority for making such demands. Her lack of transparency is unethically designed to shield her violations of First and Fourth Amendment rights, and even her own investigations statute. 

Kremenak reports to Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. After reaching a settlement in 2008 with a bank, which directed that a third of a six-figure fine go to the corrupt and now defunct “community organizing” group ACORN, Swanson received a grade of A+ from that group in time for her 2010 election. So, it’s not just censorship of political enemies; these regulators use their positions for payola and cronyism. 

Conservatives who have had dealings with Lois Lerner over the years, from when she was at the Federal Election Commission to her time at the IRS, need to know that there are hoards of NASCO bureaucrats such as Kremenak who act like Lerner’s ‘Mini-Me.’  

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September 29, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Osofsky Presents The Case For Categorical Nonenforcement Today At Northwestern

Osofsky (2016)Leigh Osofsky (Miami) presents The Case for Categorical Nonenforcement, 69 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2015), at Northwestern today as part of its Tax Colloquium Series:

Executive nonenforcement of the law is a hot-button issue. An important question that has surfaced in the debate about such nonenforcement is whether categorical, or complete, prospective nonenforcement of the law is legitimate. A variety of scholars and commentators have suggested that it is not. This Article contests such claims by applying theories of agency legitimacy to the realities of IRS nonenforcement of the tax law. Doing so reveals that, in some circumstances, categorical nonenforcement may actually increase the legitimacy of the IRS’s nonenforcement.

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September 28, 2015 in Colloquia, Structuring a Tax Workshop Series, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tazhitdinovaat Presents The Effect Of Firm Incentives On Labor Supply Responses To Taxes Today At UC-Berkeley

TazhitdinovaatAlisa Tazhitdinovaat (UC-Berkeley) presents Adjust Me if I Can't. The Effect of Firm Incentives on Labor Supply Responses to Taxes at UC-Berkeley today as part of its Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance Seminar:

Using administrative data, I show evidence of strong behavioral responses -- in the form of sharp bunching -- to a threshold that generates large discontinuous changes both in the marginal tax rates and in the total income and payroll tax liability of individuals in Germany. To calculate elasticities of earnings with respect to net-of-tax rate I extend the bunching method to frameworks with large kinks and notches. Sharp bunching translates into elasticity estimates that are an order of magnitude larger than has been previously estimated using the bunching approach. Elasticity point estimates range from 0.20 to 0.37 for women and from 0.09 to 0.25 for men, depending on the year. To explain the magnitude of the observed response, I focus on firm incentives. I show theoretically that in the presence of search costs, the magnitude of labor supply responses to taxes depends not only on the magnitude of tax changes, but also on the statutory incidence of taxes, the elasticity of substitution between the individuals working under different tax regimes and on the incidence of job search burden.

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September 28, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mehrotra & Thorndike Present New Deal Legislation & 20th Century Progressive Taxation Today at Loyola-L.A.

TMAjay Mehrotra (Indiana) & Joseph Thorndike (Tax Analysts) present New Deal Legislation and the Long 20th Century of Progressive Taxation at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

Fiscal policy plays only a minor role in the concept of a New Deal “order” as developed by Steve Fraser and Gary Gerstle. But their essay collection grows out of a broader historiography that minimizes the substantive importance of New Deal taxation, treating the issue as a vehicle for symbolic politics rather than substantive reform. In fact, taxes were a crucial element of the New Deal order — and one of its most powerful and durable legacies.

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September 28, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Altshuler Presents Lessons The U.S. Can Learn From Other Countries’ Territorial Systems Today at McGill

AltshulerRosanne Altshuler (Rutgers) presents Lessons the United States Can Learn from Other Countries’ Territorial Systems for Taxing Income of Multinational Corporations (with Stephen Shay (Harvard) & Eric Toder (Urban Institute)) at McGill today as part of its Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

The United States has a worldwide system that taxes the dividends its resident multinational corporations receive from their foreign affiliates, while most other countries have territorial systems that exempt these dividends. This report examines the experience of four countries – two with long-standing territorial systems and two that have recently eliminated taxation of repatriated dividends.

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September 28, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump's Tax Plan: 'Tax Reform That Will Make America Great Again'

The AALS Needs More Some Political Diversity

AALS (2017)John O. McGinnis (Northwestern), The Association of American Law Schools Needs More Political Diversity:

In the week that a new organization, Heterodox Academy, was established to press for more ideological diversity in academic life, the learned association in my own profession showed how much it is needed. The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) sent around a notice of its prospective annual meeting, highlighting its most prominent speakers. Of the thirteen announced, none is associated predominantly with Republican party, but eleven are associated with the Democratic Party. Many are prominent liberals. None is a conservative or libertarian.

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September 28, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)