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Friday, February 27, 2015

Six Deans Join Law Deans on Legal Education Blog

LPBN LogoThe Law Professor Blogs Network is thrilled to announce that our Law Deans on Legal Education Blog, ably manned by Rick Bales (Dean, Ohio Northern) and Richard Gershon (Dean, Mississippi), is adding six new Deans:

With the support of our sponsor, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen Publishers, the Network is seeking to expand in two ways.

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February 27, 2015 in About This Blog, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NALP: The Continued Improvement in Law Grad Job Prospects

NALP New LogoNational Law Journal op-ed:  Ground for Measured Optimism on Job Prospects, by James Leipold (Executive Director, National Association for Law Placement:

Increased hiring and reduced law school enrollment could spell happy futures for graduates.

Despite the endless publicity about the poor job market for law school graduates since the recession, the entry-level legal job market has actually been improving for the past three years. The improvements have been incremental, and it is still a scrappy and competitive job market for new law school graduates, but falling law school enrollment and a strengthening economy are likely to support continuing improvements for the next few graduating classes. ...

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February 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brunson: Unilaterally Enforcing Foreign Tax Judgments

Samuel D. Brunson (Loyola-Chicago), Accept This as a Gift: Unilaterally Enforcing Foreign Tax Judgments, 146 Tax Notes 541 (Jan. 26, 2015):

Current U.S. law treats foreign tax judgments differently than other foreign civil judgments, prohibiting U.S. courts from recognizing and enforcing the former, even though they recognize and enforce the latter. In this article, Brunson argues that there is no compelling reason for this different treatment and that it is ultimately detrimental to the government’s revenue collection. As long as the revenue rule continues to prevent the United States from enforcing foreign tax judgments, the nation cannot enlist foreign help in reducing the foreign tax gap; other countries will only collect U.S. tax judgments if the United States reciprocally collects their tax judgments. The revenue rule also allows foreign persons to hide their assets in the United States, effectively turning the United States into a tax haven. For the sake of reducing the international tax gap and for the sake of international tax justice, the United States must revoke the revenue rule.

February 27, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Two Tax Profs Are Among a Dozen Florida Dean Applicants

Florida Logo (GIF)After last year's failed dean search at the University of Florida College of Law (which included two tax profs among the four finalists):  pursuant to the state open records law, Florida has released the applications of twelve applicants, including two Tax Profs:

(Hat Tip: Dan Filler.)

February 27, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 659

IRS Logo 2House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, IRS: TIGTA Update:

  • Timothy Camus (Deputy Inspector General for Investigations, U.S. Treasury Department), Testimony

Media and blogosphere coverage:

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February 27, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Weisbach Presents The New View, the Traditional View, and Capital Gains Taxes on Stock Today at UCLA

WeisbachDavid Weisbach (Chicago) presents The New View, the Traditional View, and Capital Gains Taxes on Stock at UCLA today as part of its Colloquium on Tax Policy and Public Finance hosted by Jason Oh and Alexander Wu:

The sale of stock cum dividend generates a gain to the seller and a dividend and capital loss to the buyer. The longer the time between the gain from sale cum dividend and the loss from disposition of the stock ex dividend, the greater then net effective tax due to the time value of money. Payment of a dividend prior to the original sale avoids these offsetting capital gains and losses and, therefore, can lower overall taxes. Neither the new view nor the traditional view models of the corporate tax incorporate this effect. This paper modifies new and traditional view models and shows that the combination of dividend and capital gains taxes can generate incentives to pay dividends sooner rather than later, contrary to the conclusions of either view. It also considers how clientele effects may change these incentives, sometimes creating incentives to pay dividends after sales and sometimes before.

February 26, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

American Taxation Association 2015 Midyear Meeting

ATA LogoThe three day 2015 Midyear Meeting of the American Taxation Association kicks off today in Washington, D.C. The full program is here.

February 26, 2015 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: Greece Struggles to Get Citizens to Pay Their Taxes

GreeceWall Street Journal, Greece Struggles to Get Citizens to Pay Their Taxes:

Of all the challenges Greece has faced in recent years, prodding its citizens to pay their taxes has been one of the most difficult.

At the end of 2014, Greeks owed their government about €76 billion ($86 billion) in unpaid taxes accrued over decades, though mostly since 2009. The government says most of that has been lost to insolvency and only €9 billion can be recovered.

Billions more in taxes are owed on never-reported revenue from Greece’s vast underground economy, which was estimated before the crisis to equal more than a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product.

The International Monetary Fund and Greece’s other creditors have argued for years that the country’s debt crisis could be largely resolved if the government just cracked down on tax evasion. Tax debts in Greece equal about 90% of annual tax revenue, the highest shortfall among industrialized nations, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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February 26, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

How Much Self-Citation Is Too Much?

Highly CitedTimes Higher Education, Journal Editor’s Self-citation Rate Under Scrutiny:

A senior psychology professor has strongly denied any wrongdoing, after a blog highlighted what it claimed was his high self-citation rate in papers published in journals he edited.

Johnny Matson, a professor at Louisiana State University and an expert in autism, was the founding editor-in-chief of the Elsevier journals Research in Developmental Disabilities (RIDD) and Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders (RASD).

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February 26, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Senate Holds Hearing on The Coming Debt Crisis

Senate LogoThe Senate Budget Committee held a hearing yesterday on The Coming Crisis: America’s Dangerous Debt (with links to testimony):

February 26, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Seto: Law School Rankings by 2014 Graduates Hired into BigLaw Jobs

Seto (2014)TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Law School Rankings by 2014 Graduates Hired into BigLaw Jobs, by Theodore P. Seto (Loyola-L.A.):

On Monday, February 23, TaxProf Blog blogged the National Law Journal’s article, The Go-To Law Schools [more here], which identified “the top 50 law schools by percentage of 2014 juris doctors who took jobs at the largest 250 firms by lawyer head count—as identified in The National Law Journal’s annual survey of the nation’s 350 largest law firms.”

This post reports the same data for all other law schools as to which NLJ’s website provides data, and reports it in two forms: (1) by percentage of the graduating class (“% Hired”), extending the NLJ’s own ranking, and (2) by absolute numbers of hires (“# Hired”) by the NLJ250.

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February 26, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

SSRN Tax Faculty Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through February 1, 2015) 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):







Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)


Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



James Hines (Michigan)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Omri Marian (Florida)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


David Gamage (UCBerkeley)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


DIck Harvey (Villanova)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Chris Sanchirico (Penn)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Vic Fleischer (San Diego)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


James Hines (Michigan)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)



David Walker (BU)


Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)



Dan Shaviro (NYU)


Carter Bishop (Suffolk)



Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)


Steve Willis (Florida)



Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)


Christopher Hoyt (UMKC)


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

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February 26, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dexter: A Tax Expenditure Approach to Reparations

Bobby L. Dexter (Chapman), The Hate Exclusion: Moral Tax Equity for Damages Received on Account of Race, Sex, or Sexual Orientation Discrimination:

Scholars on both sides of the reparations literature divide commonly contemplate some form of federal monetary outlay. At the same time, given both the absence of such an outlay and the dire prognosis that such largesse is forthcoming, tax scholars rarely contribute to traditional reparations literature. With this Article, Professor Dexter introduces the federal income tax arena as fertile ground for the resolution of longstanding differences in the reparations debate and brings a novel and possibly controversial perspective to traditional tax expenditure analysis. In addition to highlighting the various political and administrative merits of a tax expenditure approach to reparations, he argues that allowing the exclusion of damages received on account of specific forms of discrimination – even if suffered at the hands of a private actor – would offer immediate and precisely-targeted reparational relief not only to those suffering the modern day impact of slavery and race discrimination under federal imprimatur but also to those impacted by the United States’ documented history of hostility with respect to women and sexual minorities. The narrow tailoring of relief combined with the moral force of the unclean hands theory of exclusion, he reasons, neutralizes arguments advanced in traditional reparations literature regarding excessive act, wrongdoer, and victim attenuation.

February 26, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 658

IRS Logo 2Washington Free Beacon, Lois Lerner Received $129K in Bonuses:

Former IRS official Lois Lerner received $129,300 in bonuses between 2010 and 2013, records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show.

Over a three-year period, Lerner, the head of the tax-exempt division at the heart of the IRS targeting scandal, received a 25 percent retention bonus—averaging $43,000 a year—on top of her regular salary.

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February 26, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tax Prof Brant Hellwig Named Dean at Washington & Lee Law School

HellwigContinuing the stunning series of developments over the past week at Washington & Lee Law School (links below):

Brant Hellwig Named Next Dean of W&L Law:

Washington and Lee University President Kenneth P. Ruscio has announced the appointment of Brant Hellwig, professor of law at Washington and Lee University and an expert in the field of federal taxation, as dean of the W&L School of Law, effective July 1, 2015.

Hellwig succeeds Nora V. Demleitner, who announced earlier this week she would step down as dean at the end of the academic year.

Hellwig joined the W&L law school faculty in 2012. He teaches a variety of tax courses, including Federal Income Taxation of Individuals, Partnership Taxation, Corporate Taxation, and Estate and Gift Taxation. His scholarship in the field is similarly broad, ranging from the income tax treatment of deferred compensation arrangements to the estate tax treatment of closely held business entities employed as trust substitutes.

Update:  Above the Law, Formerly Top 30 Law School Enters Full-On Meltdown

February 25, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (1)

Field Presents Aggressive Tax Planning and the Ethical Tax Lawyer Today at Toronto

Field (2015)Heather Field (UC-Hastings) presents Aggressive Tax Planning and the Ethical Tax Lawyer at Toronto today as part of its James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series:

[H]ow should a tax planner, who wants to engage in “permissible tax planning” but not cross the line over into “unethical loophole lawyering,” exercise her discretion and judgment? This paper seeks to answer this question by drawing on both (a) the extensive literature on lawyering and professionalism and (b) the social science literature regarding factors that contribute to biased decision-making and unintentional lapses in judgment. The explicit incorporation of these strands of literature into the discourse on tax ethics helps each tax planner operationalize, on an individual basis and in a way that aligns with her values, both the general and tax-specific rules of professional conduct. The existing tax ethics literature primarily focuses either on how to comply with the rules governing practice or on how the rules should be improved. Thus, this paper contributes to the literature by focusing on the issues that the rules leave to the discretion of the tax practitioner (rather than on the issues that the rules address) and by approaching the discussion from a lawyering perspective20 (rather than from a policymaking perspective).

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February 25, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The First Two Law Schools to Drop the LSAT Could Be Just the Beginning

Bloomberg, The First Two Law Schools to Drop the LSAT Could Be Just the Beginning:

Two law schools said this month that they would begin accepting applicants who have not taken the Law School Admissions Test, a move that may help curb weak interest and plunging enrollments in law schools across the country. The State University of New York-Buffalo Law School and the University of Iowa College of Law said they would admit students from their respective undergraduate colleges based on their grade point average and scores on standardized tests other than the LSAT. ...

The two schools are the first to announce that they've taken advantage of a recent ruling by the American Bar Association, which accredits U.S. law schools. In August, the ABA changed its rules to allow law schools to fill up to 10 percent of their class with students who have not taken the LSAT, as long as they were at the top of their college class and scored highly on the SAT and ACT, college aptitude tests, or on the GRE or GMAT graduate school exams.

Additional law schools will probably follow. Before the ABA loosened its standards, around 15 schools had successfully applied for special dispensation to admit some students without LSAT scores, and Barry Currier, managing director of accreditation and legal education at the ABA, expects these and other programs to take advantage of new rules allowing them to do so without informing the ABA. ...

Law schools could apply for an even more liberal application of the new rule: ditching the LSAT for more than 10 percent of the class and using a different standardized test as an admissions gauge for those students if they can conclusively show that the exam is as good a predictor of academic achievement as the LSAT. As further schools begin experimenting with admissions, the composition of incoming law school classes could change, and the LSAT could lose standing as an exclusive ticket to law school.

The Spectrum, UB Law School Without the LSAT: A Crime Against Competition:

These initiatives favor UB students too strongly and make the law school appear far less competitive.

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February 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

More on Law School Rankings by Graduates in BigLaw Jobs

President Obama Nominates Cono Namorato to be Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division

ConoPresident Obama yesterday nominated Cono R. Namorato to be Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division of the Department of Justice:

Cono R. Namorato is currently a Member of the law firm Caplin & Drysdale, a position he has held since 2006 and previously from 1978 to 2004. From 2004 to 2006, Mr. Namorato served as Acting Deputy Commissioner for certain designated matters and as Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the Department of the Treasury. Before beginning his career at Caplin & Drysdale, Mr. Namorato held various positions within the Tax Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), including Deputy Assistant Attorney General from 1977 to 1978, Assistant Chief and then Chief of the Criminal Section from 1973 to 1977, and Supervisory Trial Attorney and Trial Attorney from 1968 to 1973. Mr. Namorato began his career in 1963 as a Special Agent for the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS in the Brooklyn District.

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February 25, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Anemic Law Jobs Recovery

American Lawyer, Law Jobs Sees Lag in Recovery:

Legal employment is still well below its pre-recession peak and is more or less flat, while non-farm employment is strongly rebounding, according to recent average quarterly government figures.


February 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Senate Holds Hearing on Tax Reform, Growth and Efficiency

Senate LogoThe Senate Finance Committee held a hearing yesterday on Tax Reform, Growth and Efficiency:

In connection with the hearing, the Joint Committee on Taxation released Economic Growth And Tax Policy (JCX-47-15):

This document ... includes an overview of economic growth and the impact that taxes may have on economic growth.

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February 25, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Number of 'Subpar' Applicants Admitted to Texas Law School Surged After Dean Sager's Ouster, Weak Admissions to University of Texas Law Increased After Sager’s Ouster:

The number of subpar applicants admitted to the University of Texas School of Law surged after President Bill Powers forced Larry Sager to resign as dean of the law school in 2011, according to numbers from a recent report on admissions favoritism by Kroll Associates. ...


For its purposes, Kroll considered subpar to be a grade point average beneath 3.0 or a score on the Law School Admission Test under 155. ...

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February 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Virginia Law School Cuts Enrollment to Lower Student/Faculty Ratio, Improve U.S. News Ranking

The Cavalier Daily, National Law School Enrollment Reaches 40 Year Low:

The number of first-year law students has reached its lowest national level since 1973, according to an American Bar Association report. In the fall of 2014, only 37,924 first-year students entered the 204 ABA-approved law schools, a 4.4 percent decrease from 2013 and a 27.7 percent decrease from 2010’s all-time high.

Whereas the University Law School has also seen a decrease — with a current total enrollment of 1,005 students, down 88 students from an enrollment of 1,093 students in 2011 — Law School Dean Paul Mahoney attributes this decline not to national trends, but rather to an intentional effort to lower the student-faculty ratio to 10:1.


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February 25, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 657

IRS Logo 2Forbes, 12 IRS Embarrassments, 6 Questions Each Taxpayer Should Ask, by Robert W. Wood:

[Y]ou sign your tax return under penalties of perjury. That means your money—and conceivably your freedom—are on the line. It is one reason why the integrity of the IRS is so terribly important, and why the lingering IRS scandal should be resolved. Mr. Meckler in the American Spectator—understandably, but I still hope incorrectly—identifies these as what he calls the real dirty dozen. ...

Mr. Meckler says this dozen adds up to an agency failing to merit taxpayer trust. The fact that there are still unanswered questions does not mean they should not be addressed. Indeed, even if Mr. Meckler is wrong about most of this, to me, it is hardly enough to say there is no smidgen of corruption, or that nothing has been proven. For both sides of the political spectrum, the obstructionism by the administration and at the IRS has been truly disheartening. It suggests a cancer that may be hard to cut out. It reflects problems not in the rank and file of the IRS, but surely higher up. Amid all the noise, Americans should ask simpler questions, especially at this time of year.

  1. Why is the tax law so horribly complex? It isn’t the IRS’s fault. Congress passes tax laws so fundamental reform–long overdue–must start there. Even if it isn’t fair, a flat tax would be much fairer than what we have.
  2. Can I feel secure that I will be dealt with fairly by the IRS? Mostly. The tax system is full of special rules, and no one can master them all. Thus, one taxpayer may be treated very differently from another who is seemingly in the same position. That isn’t fair. Don’t confuse this with fundamental procedural fairness and non-discrimination. On the whole, the IRS does an incredible job administering our horribly unwieldy tax laws. If you are not being dealt with fairly and respectfully, complain, ask for a manager or go to the IRS Taxpayer Advocate’s Office. Speaking of the latter, wouldn’t it be incredible if Nina Olson were IRS Commissioner?
  3. Doesn’t the IRS police its employees? Yes, and it does a better job than recent stories suggest. Some are even fired, one reason much at the top is so hard to comprehend. Unreasonable or abusive requests may happen, and you need to speak up.
  4. Why does it seem that there’s always someone getting away with something in the tax world? Because there is. Wealthy people may manipulate the rules and pay less than you think they should. At the other end of the spectrum, scams may hand out earned income tax credits and bogus refunds. The fact that someone is playing the game better than you are can grate but it doesn’t mean the whole system is rigged. Reform is needed.
  5. Can I feel secure that my private taxpayer information will remain private? This may be the biggest challenge today not only for the IRS but for many in government and non-government alike. With technology and e-filing, it is a huge danger. Leaks should be dealt with severely.
  6. Why is staying off the IRS radar so important? Because much can go wrong in our terribly complex system. Avoid IRS audit triggers, and pay (don’t dispute) small bills. Even a joking suggestion of “we’ll audit you” is so sensitive. Be careful out there.

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February 25, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Nora Demleitner to Step Down as W&L Law School Dean After Three Years of Service

W&L Logo (2014)Following up on Thursday's post, W&L Law School Permanently Reduces 1L Class to 100 (Down 47% From 2012), Eliminates 6 Faculty and 6 Staff Positions, Cuts or Freezes All Faculty Salaries, and Invades Corpus of Endowment:

To:  The Law School Alumni

From:  President Kenneth P. Ruscio and Provost Daniel A. Wubah

Subject: Important News from Lewis Hall

This morning Dean Nora Demleitner announced her intention to step down as dean at the end of the academic year and return to the faculty after a sabbatical year. Her message to the Law School Community is below.   On behalf of the entire Washington and Lee community, we want to express our deepest appreciation for her contributions these last three years.

During these extraordinarily difficult times in legal education, Dean Demleitner has led the School of Law in meeting these challenges. Her letter cites a number of the significant accomplishments during her tenure.

By the end of the week, we will announce our plan for the transition as the University continues to take a leadership role in adapting to the changing environment for legal education [emphasis added]. For the moment, we simply want to thank Dean Demleitner for her considerable efforts on behalf of the school. We look forward to her return to the faculty after her sabbatical.

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February 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Hickman Presents Treasury's Retroactivity Today at Chicago

Hickman 2014 2Kristin Hickman (Minnesota) presents Treasury's Retroactivity at Chicago today as part of its Public Law & Legal Theory Workshop Series:

In Bowen v. Georgetown University Hospital, the Supreme Court described retroactivity as "not favored in the law" and generally rejected allowing federal administrative agencies to adopt regulations "altering the past legal consequences of past actions."  Unlike most regulatory agencies, Treasury and the IRS are expressly authorized by Congress to adopt regulations with precisely such primary retroactive effect.  Specifically, IRC § 7805(b) grants Treasury and the IRS the power to backdate tax regulations under a variety of circumstances.  Preliminary analysis shows that Treasury and the IRS utilize this authority regularly with little judicial oversight for abuse of discretion.  Using empirical data, this article will explore more fully Treasury and IRS utilization of the authority to adopt retroactively effective regulations interpreting the Internal Revenue Code.

February 24, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Leff Presents A New Method for Funding Law School Education Today at Georgetown

LeffBenjamin M. Leff (American) presents The Income-Based Repayment Swap: A New Method for Funding Law School Education (with Heather Hughes (American)) at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John BrooksItai Grinberg, and David Schizer:

The high cost of legal education and corresponding student debt levels is a subject of robust debate. Yet too few critics of degree cost show creativity in thinking about the optimal mechanism for funding a legal education. The traditional model for financing a legal education is that students borrow with (mostly) fixed-rate loans repayable soon after graduation. The federal government supplements loans with income-based repayment and loan forgiveness programs to protect students who have borrowed more than they can afford to pay back. The reach of these programs has expanded dramatically in recent years, with the programs covering 1.3 million graduates owing around $72 billion as of the first quarter of 2014, with every indication that those figures will grow dramatically unless the programs are modified. A significant segment of those who depend on income-based repayment and loan forgiveness programs will be law students, because those are among the students with the highest levels of qualifying debt.

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February 24, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sugin Presents Invisible Taxpayers Today at NYU

SuginLinda Sugin (Fordham) presents Invisible Taxpayers at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Viard:

The invisibility of taxpayers in the legal system creates a substantial problem for tax justice, both substantive and procedural. The courts’ application of standing doctrine, as well as its conceptualization of tax expenditures as not involving state action, has narrowed the opportunity for judicial review for tax-reducing actions taken by both Congress and the IRS. These developments fail to protect individuals, even when they have substantial individual rights claims under the Constitution.

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February 24, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Makes Standard 509 Law School Data For 2011-2014 Available in Excel Spreadsheets

ABA Logo 2ABA Offers Law School Consumer Data in Easy-to-Use Format:

Information reported by American Bar Association-approved law schools is now publicly available at no charge in online spreadsheets that enable easy searching, sorting, school-by-school comparisons and analysis, the ABA's law school accrediting body announced today. The spreadsheets, developed by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, will significantly improve the accessibility of information for prospective law students, pre-law advisors, media outlets and others who study and write about legal education.

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February 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

IRS Audits of High-Income Households Drop to 6-Year Low

AuditUSA Today,  IRS Audit Rate for Individuals Drops:

Your chances of facing an IRS audit rate dropped to the lowest level in at least a decade in 2014 and are expected to fall further this year, according to new data USA TODAY obtained from the nation's tax agency.

The audit rate, the percentage of individuals' tax returns IRS revenue agents examined either in person or via correspondence, fell to 0.86% last year, the data show. That represents the lowest rate since at least fiscal year 2005. After rising steadily from 2005-10, the number of IRS audits for individual taxpayers fell 21.4% during the succeeding five years, the data show.

The IRS audited slightly more than 1.2 million individuals last year, down more than 162,000 from 2013, and a drop of nearly 339,000 from 2010.

Bloomberg, IRS Audits of High-Income Households Drop to 6-Year Low:

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February 24, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Borden: Tax Revenue Effects of REIT Spinoffs

Bradley T. Borden (Brooklyn), Counterintuitive Tax Revenue Effect of REIT Spinoffs, 146 Tax Notes 381 (Jan. 19, 2015):

Several reports have attacked REIT spinoffs because they erode the corporate tax base, apparently reducing government tax revenues. This article uses a very simple example to illustrate that multiple variables can affect the tax-revenue effect of a REIT spinoff and shows that under some assumptions the tax-revenue effect of a REIT spinoff can actually be positive.

February 24, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yale Professors Oppose Proposed Standards of Faculty Conduct

Yale University LogoInside Higher Ed, Yale Professors Object to Vague New Faculty Conduct Policy:

Is a professor sending out a late recommendation letter for a student as bad as one who commits academic misconduct or, say, sexually harasses a colleague? And shouldn’t staff and administrators be held to the same ethical standards as faculty members? Professors at Yale University are asking those questions, among others, and generally scratching their heads at what they say is a “curious” and “confusing” proposed faculty conduct code threatening undefined sanctions for a mishmash of transgressions.

Faculty members who are critical of the document also say it seems like it’s being ramrodded through an appointed committee just weeks ahead of the formation of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ first-ever Faculty Senate.

The university, meanwhile, says the document is an attempt to centralize its various policies regarding faculty conduct.

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February 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fennell: Do Not Cite Or Circulate

DNCCLee Anne Fennell (Chicago), Do Not Cite or Circulate, 19 Green Bag 2d ___ (2015):

This short essay ponders why legal scholars attach formulations such as "Do Not Cite or Circulate" to draft works. It argues against the practice in most circumstances, particularly for work posted on the internet.

February 24, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

What’s Worse: Being A Tax Lawyer Or An Accountant?

TaxAbove the Law, What’s Worse: Being A Lawyer Or An Accountant?:

When I practiced law, I used to look forward to tax season. It was the one time of the year where I felt like accountants had it worse than lawyers. Which got me to thinking — which career is worse: lawyers or accountants? Which will disappear sooner? Who’s more boring? ... If you’ve got any good evidence or anecdotal war stories, speak up in the comments sections and let us know what you think. 

February 24, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

ABA Memoranda on New Law School Accreditation Standards

The IRS Scandal, Day 656

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, White House That Promised Transparency Refuses to Cooperate With IRS Probe:

The White House told Congress last week it refused to dig into its computers for emails that could shed light on what kinds of private taxpayer information the IRS shares with President Obama’s top aides, assuring Congress that the IRS will address the issue — eventually. The tax agency has already said it doesn’t have the capability to dig out the emails in question, but the White House’s chief counsel, W. Neil Eggleston, insisted in a letter last week to House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan that the IRS would try again once it finishes with the tea party-targeting scandal.

“It is my understanding that in May 2014, Commissioner Koskinen responded to this request by indicating that the IRS would be able to address new topics such as these following its completion of document productions already in progress,” Mr. Eggleston wrote in a Feb. 17 letter. “To the extent that the committee continues to have an oversight interest in this matter, I encourage you to continue working with the IRS to address those questions.”

But IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s letter last year didn’t say that. Instead Mr. Koskinen said the IRS was logistically incapable of performing the search because it would have required combing through 90,000 email accounts. ...

The White House didn’t assert any privileges in refusing Mr. Ryan’s request last week, instead insisting the IRS would work on it, so there was no need for the president to get involved. That conflicts with Mr. Koskinen’s 2014 letter making clear he didn’t think such a search was feasible from his end. ...

Any official requests for private taxpayer information made by the White House are supposed to be personally signed by the president, and Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation is supposed to be notified of the request. The JCT issues an annual report on all requests for IRS information, and those reports don’t show any such requests from the president during Mr. Obama’s time in office.

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February 24, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Monday, February 23, 2015

NLJ: Law School Rankings by Graduates in BigLaw Jobs

National Law Journal, The Go-To Law Schools:

Go ToThe new associate hiring picture at large law firms improved for the third straight year in 2014, but that growth wasn’t due to firms enlarging the size of the first-year associate classes. Instead, a smaller cohort of new law graduates meant that a higher percentage of them could land associate jobs at the largest 250 law firms in the country, even though those firms hired roughly the same number of new associates as in 2013.

We’ve ranked the top 50 law schools by percentage of 2014 juris doctors who took jobs at the largest 250 firms by lawyer head count—as identified in The National Law Journal’s annual survey of the nation’s 350 largest law firms. We also identified the schools that saw the most alumni promoted to partner, and highlighted the 20 schools that outperform their U.S. News & World Report ranking when it comes to large firm hiring. We take an even deeper dive into our annual law school report in our special interactive feature.

The Top 50 Go-To Law Schools:  These schools sent the highest percentage of new graduates to the largest 250 law firms:

RankLaw School2014 Grads at NLJ 2502014 JDs% Grads at NLJ 250TuitionU.S. News Rank
1 Columbia 310 468 66.24% $60,274 4
2 Pennsylvania 177 278 63.67% $56,916 5
3 Chicago 129 211 61.14% $55,503 4
4 NYU 287 479 59.92% $56,838 6
5 Harvard 326 586 55.63% $55,842 2
6 Cornell 101 191 52.88% $59,360 13
7 Northwestern 144 291 49.48% $56,434 12
8 Duke 105 215 48.84% $55,588 10
9 Virginia 163 349 46.70% $51,800 8
10 Stanford 85 187 45.45% $54,366 3
11 UC-Berkeley 115 287 40.07% $48,166 9
12 Michigan 153 390 39.23% $51,398 10
13 Georgetown 239 625 38.24% $53,130 13
14 Yale 80 224 35.71% $56,200 1
15 USC 71 216 32.87% $57,507 20
16 Texas 113 351 32.19% $33,162 15
17 UCLA 102 336 30.36% $45,226 17
18 Vanderbilt 56 194 28.87% $49,722 16
19 Boston Univ. 71 246 28.86% $47,188 27
20 Fordham 119 462 25.76% $52,532 36

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February 23, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Ventry & Borden: Probability, Professionalism, and Protecting Taxpayers

Dennis J. Ventry, Jr. (UC-Davis) & Bradley T. Borden (Brooklyn), Probability, Professionalism, and Protecting Taxpayers, 68 Tax Law. 83 (2014):

This Article — the first in a three-part series — analyzes the affirmative and disciplinary duties imposed on tax lawyers that require them to make probability assessments about the merits of a client’s tax position or tax-favored transaction and to reflect those estimates with numerical precision. It describes how the Treasury, Congress, and the American Bar Association (often in concert, occasionally at odds) forged this obligatory standard of care over the last three decades with the shared goal of facilitating accurate advice, accurate reporting positions, and compliance with the law. The resulting regulatory standard of care (which swept aside the old regime of self-regulation) assists tax lawyers in avoiding flawed methodological processes and in minimizing psychological biases and misaligned incentives that can distort professional judgment. In this way, the standard of care for tax lawyers — particularly its emphasis on improving accuracy and reducing errors by updating subjective beliefs with new, relevant information — reflects a branch of probabilistic decision theory known as Bayesian reasoning.

February 23, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chen: Modeling Citation and Download Data in Legal Scholarship

James Ming Chen (Michigan State), Modeling Citation and Download Data in Legal Scholarship:

Impact factors among law reviews provide a measure of influence among these journals and the schools that publish them. Downloads from the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) serve a similar function. Bibliometrics is rapidly emerging as a preferred alternative to more subjective assessments of academic prestige and influence. Law should embrace this trend.

This paper evaluates the underlying mathematics of law review impact factors and per-author SSRN download rates by institution.


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February 23, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Review of Vanguard's Tax Structure at Heart of Whistleblower's $1 Billion Tax Claim

VanguardFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Philadelphia Inquirer, IRS Continues to Review Vanguard's Tax Structure:

The Internal Revenue Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission are still reviewing allegations that Vanguard Group Inc.'s unusual business structure operates in violation of federal tax law, according to attorneys for former Vanguard tax lawyer David Danon, who brought the allegations to the agencies' attention in 2013.

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February 23, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Op-eds on Death and Dying

Two powerful op-eds on death and dying:

February 23, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Duquesne Law School Dean's Nomination to Pennsylvania Supreme Court Threatened by Discrimination Lawsuits by Law Faculty

GormleyTribune, Wolf Nominee to Top Court Causes Stir With Controversial Email:

Senate Republicans received a document anonymously involving the second nominee, Duquesne University School of Law professor Ken Gormley, that included an administrative officer's report from 2007 suggesting there was “sufficient evidence” to support a professor's discrimination claim related to a tenure quest. ...

[F]ederal court records show Gormley was named in at least two lawsuits alleging discrimination and harassment, arising from tenure quests.

One lawsuit, filed in 2010 by former law professor Alice Stewart, was settled out of court under seal in 2011. The other, filed Oct. 31, 2014, by Susan Hascall, alleges religious discrimination and is pending. Hascall is a law professor whose teachings include Islamic law. ...

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February 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Fed: The Growing Student Loan Crisis

Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Quarterly Report on House Hold Debt and Credit (Feb. 2015):

Outstanding student loan balances reported on credit reports increased to $1.16 trillion (+$31 billion) as of December 31, 2014, representing about $77 billion increase from one year ago. Student loan delinquency rates worsened in the 4th quarter. About 11.3% of aggregate student loan debt is 90+ days delinquent or in default in 2014Q4, up from 11.1% in the third quarter. 

NY 2

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February 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (16)

North Carolina Law Faculty Push Back Against Board's Decision to Close Law School Poverty Center

UNCFollowing up on Thursday's post, North Carolina Board of Governors Committee Votes to Close Law School Poverty Center Founded by John Edwards:  Washington Post, Law Faculty Accuses UNC Panel of Attempting to Chill Free Speech:

[S]cores of members of the law faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill have signed a statement deploring the recommendation to close the poverty center and are also pushing back against another recommendation by the panel: for the university to tighten policies banning political participation and limiting advocacy. This could affect advocacy work done by the law school’s Center for Civil Rights:

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February 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

The IRS Scandal, Day 655

IRS Logo 2Forbes, Remember IRS Stonewalling When Filing Your Taxes, by Robert W. Wood:

You have to file a tax return, and you have to be careful. You have to sign it under penalties of perjury. And you have to maintain receipts, logs and proof. And doubts are usually going to be resolved against you. It is understandable that some taxpayers are going to think about these things when they trudge through their returns and get ready to file. And they may think about the IRS stonewalling too. Is the playing field level?

Much ink has been spilled over the dog at my homework excuses emanating from many in our government. When the IRS targeting scandal was uncovered 2 years ago, many Democrats said there was never a smidgen of corruption. Many continue to say that the IRS did its best, no one hid anything, crashes happen, etc. Besides, they will note, these conservative organizations have too much power anyhow. So if the IRS had rogue agents, or if someone did get a little confused about the law down at the IRS in Cincinnati, where’s the harm?

They say it was a ‘witch hunt’ that went on way too long. If so, it is no one’s fault but the government’s, including IRS Chief John Koskinen. Rather than transparency, we had obstructionism at every turn. Commissioner Koskinen recently had a chance to apologize for gaffes and untimely notification of Congress that the tax agency had lost thousands of emails sought by investigators.

At a hearing Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, noted a letter that Mr. Koskinen sent the Senate Finance Committee saying the IRS had handed over everything. Curiously, the letter didn’t even mention that the former Exempt Organizations chief Lois Lerner’s emails had been lost. Mr. Koskinen defended his actions: “Absolutely not. We waited six weeks to tell while trying to find as many of the emails as we could. We gave you all of Ms. Lerner’s emails we had. We couldn’t make up Lois Lerner emails we didn’t have.” ...

David Axelrod, formerly an Obama Administration senior adviser, said that he is proud of the fact that President Obama has never been involved in a major scandal through six years in office. Yes, you heard right. Of course, other observers might say that the IRS scandal certainly seems to qualify as a scandal. Heck, perhaps Benghazi and Fast & Furious were too?

Indeed, in the case of the IRS, as long as Mr. Axelrod was going to give the party line, perhaps Mr. Axelrod might have better used a well-worn phrase: ‘not a smidgen’ of scandal corruption. 

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February 23, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Taxing Oscars: $160,000 Swag Bags and Tax Incentives for Best Picture Nominees

IRS, Gift Bag Questions and Answers:

Q: What are the federal income tax consequences to a person who accepts a gift bag in recognition of involvement in an awards show?
A: In general, the person has received taxable income equal to the fair market value of the bag and its contents and must report that amount on his or her federal income tax return. ...

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February 22, 2015 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

800,000 Users in 37 States Received Wrong Tax Information From Government, Leading to 'Mayhem' This Tax Filing Season

HealthNew York Times, Tax Error in Health Act Has Impact on 800,000:

About 800,000 taxpayers who enrolled in insurance policies through received erroneous tax information from the government and were urged on Friday to hold off on filing tax returns until the error could be corrected.

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February 22, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

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

  1. [246 Downloads]  Why Corporate Tax Reform Can Happen, by Edward Kleinbard (USC)
  2. [170 Downloads]  David Foster Wallace on Tax Policy, How to Be an Adult, and Other Mysteries of the Universe, by Arthur J. Cockfield (Queen's University)
  3. [145 Downloads]  Fiscally Transparent Entities: Eligibility for Tax Treaty Benefits, by Sumeet Khurana & Ashish Karundia
  4. [133 Downloads]  Taxation and Surveillance -- An Agenda, by Michael Hatfield (University of Washington)
  5. [122 Downloads]  Inevitable: Sports Gambling, State Regulation, and the Pursuit of Revenue, by Anastasios Kaburakis (St. Louis), Ryan M. Rodenberg (Florida State) & John T. Holden (Florida State)

February 22, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 654

IRS Logo 2The American Spectator, The Real ‘Dirty Dozen’ at the IRS: For Some Reason, It Fails to Include Itself on its List of Abusers, Scammers, and Cheats:

The IRS just released its “dirty dozen” list of tax scams and schemes for the American people to avoid. In addition to normal phishing and identity theft, a slew of new phone scams around the nation has caught many taxpayers off guard. Plus, unscrupulous return preparers take advantage of confused Americans, especially given that 60 percent of taxpayers need assistance figuring out all those documents, tables, and exemptions. The list also warns the less honest among us to avoid hiding money offshore, in abusive tax shelters, or with false documents. Additionally, it urges people not to falsify income or claim too much in fuel tax credits, either.

But there is an even more concerning “dirty dozen” list that the IRS wants the public to forget.

It’s been almost two years since the news broke that the IRS had been targeting Tea Party, pro-Israel, and other conservative groups — and a scandal erupted. Here are just a select few ways the IRS has mismanaged its problems and shown itself to be incompetent and untrustworthy:

1. Internal emails show these groups were targeted because IRS employees thought them “icky.”

2. Other emails showed that Lois Lerner was conspiring with the Department of Justice to prosecute conservative groups on trumped-up charges.

3. Lerner herself refused to testify to investigating committees and was held in contempt.

4. That didn’t stop her from defending herself to Politico magazine and complaining about being “harassed” for her role.

5. Then, the IRS claimed it had lost the most crucial batch of Lerner’s emails.

6. Oh yeah, and her Blackberry was destroyed too.

7. Six months later, the Tax Inspector General may have found those lost emails. (Still no word yet on what was in them.)

Scandal events aside, the IRS showed its general incompetence in many other ways.

8. IRS workers campaigned for political candidates while on the job.

9. The agency awarded bonuses to its own employees who owed taxes.

10. Guess who was audited ten times more often than the average taxpayer? Supporters of the Tea Party.

11. The IRS illegally shared confidential, protected information with the FBI, the White House, and more.

12. And it has the nerve to constantly ask for a raise.

It all adds up to an agency that doesn’t merit the trust of taxpayers.

For at least three years, the IRS has egregiously wronged this nation — including at least one person on a director level. Yet, it still hasn’t apologized or come clean.

But despite all the excuses and diversions offered by the IRS, the American people are still saying what Senator Ron Johnson expressed: “I smell a rat. I smell a number of rats, and that’s what we are going to get to the bottom of.”

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February 22, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)