TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, September 23, 2016

28 Florida Graduate Tax Alumni Academics Respond To Robert Rhee's Critique Of The Program

Florida Logo (GIF)Florida Graduate Tax Program Alumni Academics Letter:

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

We the undersigned graduates of the UF Tax Program have read the various blog posts and other public information that have emerged regarding the Tax Program at the University of Florida Frederic G. Levin College of Law. As alumni in academia, we write to express gratitude to Tax Program faculty, appreciation for its in-residence structure, and stress the importance of preserving (and even enhancing) one of the truly great programs in legal education. The UF Tax Program represents much of what is good in legal education.

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September 23, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Omri Marian Responds To Robert Rhee's Critique Of Florida's Graduate Tax Program

Marian (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below) on the controversy surrounding the Florida Graduate Tax Program: Omri Marian, who started his academic career at Florida before joining the UC-Irvine faculty in 2015, has written a withering 28-page letter responding to Robert Rhee's 24-page critique of Florida's graduate tax program. Here are the introduction and conclusion to the letter:

Dear community of tax students, tax professionals, and tax academics,

As I am sure you are aware, over the past few months, the Graduate Tax Program (the “Program”) at the University of Florida (“UF”) has been embroiled in a heated controversy. This controversy started after the arrival of a new Dean, Laura Rosenbury, and significantly escalated with the publication of a letter criticizing the Program, written by Robert Rhee, a non-tax law faculty member at UF.

Rhee’s letter was not written in a vacuum. It is a result of a toxic organizational environment full of anger and distrust. I do not know who is responsible for breeding such an environment, as I have little firsthand knowledge of the events leading to Rhee’s letter. My best guess is that many individuals, of all parties involved, share the blame.

The purpose of this response letter is to make three arguments:

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September 23, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Brian Leiter Weighs In On 'The Turmoil At The University Of Florida Over Its Tax Program'

Florida Logo (GIF)Brian Leiter (Chicago), The Turmoil at the University of Florida Over Its Tax Program:

One peculiarity of the critical analysis of the tax program by UF faculty member Robert Rhee is that, in discussing the Sisk data on faculty citations, he fails to note (at least not that I saw) that tax is a low-citation field compared to corporate or constitutional law or just about every other field!  That does lead me to wonder about the reliability of other parts of his analysis. ...

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September 23, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

NYU Symposium:  Human Rights And Tax In An Unequal World

HRThe two-day symposium on Human Rights and Tax in an Unequal World concludes today at NYU:

Session #3:   Beyond “Spillover”: North-South Dimensions of Tax and Tax Abuse

This panel will situate the discussion of tax abuse and human rights in its geopolitical context, addressing the differentiated responsibilities of the Global North and South for the causes and consequences of tax abuse, and the relationship between cross-border tax abuse and inter-State inequalities. Experts from the fields of tax and human rights will discuss the methodological challenges of assessing the extraterritorial impacts of tax policies and secrecy regimes, some of which were laid bare in recent attempts to conduct “spillover analyses” of laws and regulations in the Global North. How can studies capture the human rights consequences of the policies that enable cross-border tax abuse, including the gendered impacts? Panelists will explore options for enforcing global tax rules and holding actors accountable for tax abuses that affect human rights, including the potential role for domestic courts, as well as regional and international human rights bodies.

Session #4:  Private Actors and the Public Purse: The Roles of Corporations, Lawyers, and Accountants in Tax Abuse

Consumers and regulators are increasingly scrutinizing the practices of corporations that hide assets to avoid or minimize taxes paid on the benefits they reap from operating in various jurisdictions, and the responsibilities of the law firms (like Mossack Fonseca of Panama Papers fame) and accountants that facilitate such practices. Recent high-profile tax scandals have underscored the reputational risks of tax abuses and have made tax planning an issue of corporate social responsibility and business ethics. Some of the questions panelists will explore include: How realistic is it to expect serious reform of tax practices to come from private actors? Are efforts to encourage ‘good corporate tax behavior’ delaying compulsory measures by suggesting there is voluntary progress? How do human rights principles and policies bear on the ethical obligations of accountants and lawyers who work in the area of taxation? In what ways, if any, should considerations of human rights law affect the ethics of accountants and lawyers in this field?

Session #5:  The Responsibilities of Governments: The Case of Transparency

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September 23, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1233

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Kahng Presents Who Owns Human Capital? At Emory

Kahng (2017)Lily Kahng (Seattle) presented Who Owns Human Capital?, 93 Wash. U. L. Rev. ___ (2017), at Emory yesterday as part of its Faculty Colloquium Series:

This Article analyzes the tax law’s capital income preference through the lens of intellectual capital, an increasingly important driver of economic productivity whose value derives primarily from workers’ knowledge, experience and skills. The Article discusses how business owners increasingly are able to “propertize” labor into intellectual capital — to control their workers and appropriate the returns on their labor through the expansive use of intellectual property laws, contract and employment laws, and other legal mechanisms. The Article then shows how the tax law provides significant subsidies to the process of propertization and thereby contributes to the inequitable distribution of returns between business owners and workers. The Article’s analysis further reveals the tax law’s fundamental capital-labor distinction to be questionable, perhaps even illusory, an insight which has profound implications for the tax law.

September 22, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Joshua Blank Named Vice Dean At NYU

Blank (2016)Press Release:

Professor of Tax Law Joshua Blank LLM ’07, faculty director of the Graduate Tax Program, has been named NYU Law’s vice dean for technology-enhanced education.

In his new vice deanship, Blank will focus initially on four areas: working with faculty to introduce and enhance the use of technology in their teaching; overseeing the current online degree programs, the Executive LLM in Taxation and the Master of Studies in Law in Taxation, and helping to launch new degree programs with significant online components; leading the Law School’s efforts in developing open education content; and representing NYU Law on University-level technology committees. While continuing work on current technology-based initiatives, he will also actively seek new and forward-thinking opportunities for the Law School to evolve technologically.

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September 22, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Second Circuit Affirms Paul Daugerdas' Conviction And Sentence For Tax Shelter Fraud

Helter ShelterUnited States v. Daugerdas, No. 14-2437 (2d Cir. Sept. 21, 2016):

Paul M. Daugerdas was a Certified Public Accountant (“CPA”) and tax attorney at Arthur Andersen through August of 9 1994; the law firm Altheimer & Gray from the end of 1994 through 1998; and the Chicago office of the law firm Jenkens & Gilchrist (“J&G”) from 1999 through April 2004. Throughout his career, Daugerdas developed, sold, and implemented a variety of tax‐reduction strategies for wealthy clients: the so‐called Short Sale Shelter, Short Option Shelter, Swaps Shelter, and HOMER Shelter. Besides Daugerdas’s employers, two other entities had significant involvement in this undertaking.    The accounting firm BDO Seidman (“BDO”) referred its clients to J&G and helped to sell the shelters, and the investment bank Deutsche Bank. Alex Brown (“DB”) assisted J&G in the design of the shelters, held informational meetings with clients, and implemented the transactions that composed the shelters.

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September 22, 2016 in New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Florida Maintains 1L Class Size, Increases Median LSAT (160, +3) & GPA (3.60, +.10), Enrolls Most Diverse Class In History

Florida Logo (GIF)The University of Florida Levin College of Law (ranked #48 by U.S. News) welcomed 314 1Ls this Fall (essentially flat from its 2015 (310) and 2010 (310) enrollments).  Despite maintaining its class size, Florida increased its LSAT median by three points (160) and its GPA median by .10 (3.60).  Florida's complete 2016 25%/50%/75% LSAT and GPA ranges are 156/160/161 and 3.33/3.60/3.77. 

UF press release:

When Dean Laura A. Rosenbury became UF Law’s leader last July, she set forth several admissions goals for the Fall 2016 entering class: raise the median LSAT and GPA scores, and enroll a class with at least 30 percent of the students representing racial and ethnic diversity. The 2016 entering class met and exceeded both of those goals, even setting a record in UF Law’s 107-year history.

  • Applications (2,759) increased by 103% (1,361 last year)
  • Acceptance rate fell to 35.3%, down from a 62% last year
  • Most diverse class in history: 36% (number of Hispanic/Latino students doubled, to 18.7%)

Here are Florida's admission data for the prior six years from Law School Transparency:

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September 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Florida State Welcomes 153 1Ls, Down 13% From Last Year (23% From 2010)

Florida State logoThe Florida State University College of Law (ranked #50 by U.S. News) welcomed 153 1Ls this Fall, down 13% from 2015 (175) and 23% from 2010 (199).  Florida State increased its LSAT median by one point (159) and maintained its GPA median (3.52).  Florida State's complete 2016 25%/50%/75% LSAT and GPA ranges are 157/159/160 and 3.33/3.52/3.72.  The racial/ethnic diversity of the class is 20%.  Here are Florida State's admission data for the prior six years from Law School Transparency:

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September 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NYU Symposium:  Human Rights And Tax In An Unequal World

HRThe two-day symposium on Human Rights and Tax in an Unequal World kicks off today at NYU:

Session #1:  Are Human Rights Really Relevant to Tax?

This panel will ask a range of leading tax scholars and practitioners what relevance human rights law has or could have to the field of tax law. Do human rights matter to tax policy and practice? Are human rights laws and institutions relevant to understanding and regulating the global tax system? How do the core principles of the human rights regime—non-discrimination, equality, and dignity— inform thinking on the power to tax, the design of tax policies, and the implementation and enforcement of tax laws? Can human rights law help trace the line between permissible tax competition and impermissible interference with other States’ tax sovereignty? Panelists will discuss how tax experts are, or whether they should be, grappling with concepts of human rights and corresponding duties as they chart reforms of domestic and global tax policies, and what they need from the human rights community to do so.

Session #2:  The Human Rights Dimensions of Tax and Tax Abuse

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September 22, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Utah Law Prof: Impeach Trump Immediately If He Beats Clinton

Trump (2016-2)Christopher Peterson (Utah), Trump University and Presidential Impeachment:

In the final weeks of the 2016 Presidential campaign Donald J. Trump faces three lawsuits accusing him of fraud and racketeering. These ongoing cases focus on a series of wealth seminars called “Trump University” which collected over $40 million from consumers seeking to learn Trump’s real estate investing strategies. Although these consumer protection cases are civil proceedings, the underlying legal elements in several counts that plaintiffs seek to prove run parallel to the legal elements of serious crimes under both state and federal law. This essay provides a legal analysis of whether Trump’s alleged behavior would, if proven, rise to the level of impeachable offenses under the presidential impeachment clause of the United States Constitution.

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September 22, 2016 in Legal Education, Political News, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (9)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1232

IRS Logo 2New York Times, I.R.S. Chief Calls Efforts to Oust Him ‘Improper’:

The commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, John A. Koskinen, expressed regret Wednesday for management mistakes, but called the attempt by House Republicans to impeach him “improper,” warning that such threats would discourage people from government service. ...

He also rejected Republican calls for him to resign, but said he would leave office if the next president so wishes. Otherwise, Mr. Koskinen’s term ends in November 2017. ...

At the Judiciary hearing on Wednesday, Mr. Koskinen again testified that the destruction of emails was inadvertent, and that his testimony in 2014 was based on what he thought was factual at the time. But he expressed regrets.

“The truth is, we did not succeed in preserving all of the information requested. And some of my testimony later proved mistaken,” Mr. Koskinen said. He added, “Even closer communication with Congress would have been advisable.” ...

Several Democrats denounced the hearings as a “sham,” and many changed the subject, instead asking Mr. Koskinen leading questions in reference to the Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump.

While Mr. Koskinen said he could not talk about any specific taxpayer, he said the I.R.S. would not object to someone releasing tax returns under audit — as Mr. Trump has suggested the I.R.S. would do in refusing to release his own returns. Mr. Koskinen also described violations of tax law by charitable foundations in hypothetical terms, much like critics have alleged against Mr. Trump’s foundation.

“I appreciate your being here to clear some of that up,” said Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida.

Wall Street Journal, IRS Commissioner Pushes Back on Impeachment Attempt:

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen defended himself Wednesday against an impeachment attempt, labeling Republicans’ push to remove him from office as “improper” and warning that such a move would deter qualified people from serving in government.

House GOP hard-liners say impeachment is warranted because of the destruction of evidence sought by congressional investigators and because Mr. Koskinen failed to promptly inform Congress when he learned of the destruction. They also pressed him on the thoroughness of the agency’s search for records, which Congress demanded as part of inquiries into the IRS treatment of conservative groups under Mr. Koskinen’s predecessors.

“Your overall record is one of gross incompetence and extreme negligence,” Rep. Raul Labrador (R., Idaho) told Mr. Koskinen during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, urging the commissioner to resign.

Although he expressed regret for the agency’s shortcomings in protecting evidence and the fact that some of his statements later proved mistaken, Mr. Koskinen said he wouldn’t quit and said he hadn’t done anything to deserve impeachment.

“There is no evidence anywhere that I knew something I didn’t tell people about, that I falsified or misrepresented or lied,” he told reporters after the hearing, adding that it would set a “terrible precedent” if he were pressured out of office.

National Review: The IRS Commissioner Belongs in Prison, by Kevin D. Williamson:

I do not usually go out of my way to publicly disagree with National Review editorials, but I respectfully dissent from our piece calling for the impeachment of IRS commissioner John Koskinen.

He shouldn’t be impeached. He should be imprisoned.

When the feds couldn’t make ordinary criminal charges stick to the organized-crime syndicate that turned 1920s Chicago into a free-fire zone, they went after the boss, Al Capone, on tax charges. Under Barack Obama, the weaponized IRS has been transformed into a crime syndicate far worse than anything dreamt of by pinstriped Model-T gangsters — because Al Capone and Meyer Lansky did not have the full force of the federal government behind them. 

Koskinen was called before the House on Tuesday to explain a few things. One of those things is: Why is the IRS destroying evidence under subpoena in this case? Another was: Why is the IRS commissioner lying to Congress?

Koskinen is fluent in the mustelid dialect of Washington: “We did not succeed in preserving all of the information requested, and some of my testimony later proved mistaken.” There is a term for failing to “succeed in preserving information requested” during an official investigation: obstruction of justice.

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September 22, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Duff Presents Dworkinian Equality And Redistributive Taxation Today At Toronto

Duff (2016)David Duff (British Columbia) presents Tax Policy and the Virtuous Sovereign: Dworkinian Equality and Redistributive Taxation at Toronto today as part of its James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series:

Among the purposes of a tax system, it is generally accepted that one role is to implement a society’s conception of distributive justice. Indeed, if justice is, as John Rawls famously declared, “the first virtue of social institutions,” distributive justice may properly be regarded as the first or sovereign virtue of a society’s tax system – to which a virtuous sovereign should properly attend.

This article reviews Ronald Dworkin’s theory of distributive justice as equality of resources and its implications for redistributive taxation. Part II examines the theory itself in contrast to other prominent theories of distributive justice, arguing that Dworkin’s approach provides a more compelling conception of distributive justice than welfare-based theories that do not take rights and responsibilities seriously, Rawlsian theory which is insufficiently attentive to individual rights and responsibilities, and classical libertarianism which fails to take equality seriously.

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September 21, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Buchanan Presents Social Security, Inequality, And Younger Generations Today At Northwestern

BuchananNeil Buchanan (George Washington) presents Social Security, Inequality, and Younger Generations at Northwestern today as part of its Advanced Topics in Taxation Workshop Series hosted by Sarah Lawsky:

Are older generations of Americans using Social Security to enrich themselves at the expense of their children and grandchildren? To listen to the public debate in the United States, one could be forgiven for thinking so. Derogatory labels for older people, such as “greedy geezers,” have become common in the American political debate, with news commentators, politicians, and even the popular culture chiming in with claims that older Americans are the cause of otherwise-solvable budget problems, and more generally that they are a cohort of selfish retirees and near-retirees who refuse to give up their excessive government-provided benefits, which will inevitably lead to disastrous outcomes for the generations to follow.

September 21, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The SEC Should Demand More Tax Disclosure From Public Companies

New York Times op-ed: How Companies Like Apple Dodge Taxes and Their Own Investors, by Morris Pearl (former Managing Director, BlackRock; Chairman, Patriotic Millionaires):

As an investor, one who has been entrusted with helping to safeguard other people’s money over many years, I value the high degree of disclosure required from American public companies. Corporations and the world in which they operate change every day, so investors need to know the risks their money faces.

No area of business demonstrates the need for full disclosure as much as one that has been in the news a lot lately: large American companies’ shifting profits overseas to minimize tax bills, or to avoid taxes altogether. These schemes are starting to attract the attention of regulators and governments who view them more as tax dodges than as legitimate financial arrangements.

Given the risks, the last thing investors need is less disclosure. But the Securities and Exchange Commission, the agency responsible to ensure that companies are being open and honest, is considering exactly that: scaling back the information available to the public. ... This is the wrong direction. We need more information, not less.

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September 21, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deans Endorse ABA's Proposed 75% Bar Passage Accreditation Requirement

National Law Journal (2016)National Law Journal:  A Tightened Bar Passage Standard is Needed, by  Daniel Rodriguez (Dean, Northwestern) & Craig Boise (Dean, Syracuse):

The American Bar Association's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has proposed tightening up its regulation of those law schools with a significant ­percentage of graduates who have failed their state's bar exam. Under the proposed new accreditation standard, law schools must ensure that at least three-quarters of their graduates pass the bar after two attempts, rather than five, as is the case under the current standards. As with any numerical benchmark, the measure is imperfect, yet its purpose is a sound one.

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September 21, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

After 57% Enrollment Decline, St. Louis Welcomes Larger 1L Class With Lower LSAT, GPA Medians

St. Louis LogoAfter shrinking its class size 57% from 2010 (334) to 2013 (145), St. Louis (ranked #82 by U.S. News) welcomed 186 1Ls this Fall, a 10% increase from 2015 (170) and a 28% increase from 2013.

St. Louis Enrollment

This year's enrollment increase resulted in 1-point decreases in St. Louis's 25th (151) and 50th (154) LSAT percentiles, and decreases in its 25th/50th/75th GPA percentiles.  Here are St. Louis's admission data for the prior six years from Law School Transparency:

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September 21, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

IRS Maps Same-Sex Marriages By City, State

Robin Fisher, Geof Gee & Adam Looney (U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Tax Analysis), Joint Filing by Same-Sex Couples after Windsor: Characteristics of Married Tax Filers in 2013 and 2014:

In June 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (Windsor v. United States), allowing same-sex spouses to be treated as married for all federal tax purposes. Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) subsequently ruled that same-sex spouses legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. This paper provides estimates of the population of same-sex tax filers in the first two years affected by the decision drawn from the population of returns filed and using methods developed by the Census to address measurement error in gender classification. In 2014, we estimate that about 0.35 percent of all joint filers were same-sex couples or about 183,280 couples.

New York Times, The Most Detailed Map of Gay Marriage in America:

NY Times

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September 21, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

My Love-Hate Relationship With My Harvard Law Degree

Harvard Law School (2016)Huffington Post: My Love-Hate Relationship With My Harvard Law Degree, by Stephanie Barnes Taylor (CEO, The Fruition Group):

I recently attended a Celebration of Black Alumni at Harvard Law School. It has been held every five years since 2000. I last attended in 2011, and I could not help but marvel at what had changed since then. Class reunions are a dubious mix of reflection, comparison and inspiration. It is a poignant intersection of the past, present and future. I have rid myself of a lot of baggage since attending in 2011—literally and figuratively. ...

During the 2011 reunion, I was reminded that Harvard Law School was founded from the proceeds of the sale of slaves that Isaac Royall, Jr. inherited from his father’s sugar plantation in Antigua. Until 2016, the law school bore the Royall family crest as part of its shield. All of my HLS paraphernalia bears the painful reminder that I, a descendant of slaves, was afforded the opportunity to receive my law degree from the finest legal institution in the world at the literal cost of human lives.

My Harvard law degree is a big deal not because of any material prestige it may bring, but because of the sacrifice that it represents. Every Harvard Law School graduate, regardless of race or color, is a beneficiary of the sale of human lives. Either we honor that legacy and make the world a better place for all humans or we ignore the responsibility that our privilege requires of us. Privilege is accompanied by a responsibility. It bears repeating. To whom much is given, much is required.

My HLS Degree Has Come at a Cost to My Marriage and Motherhood

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September 21, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1231

IRS Logo 2The Daily Signal, Judiciary Committee Set to Audit Top IRS Tax Agent:

A last-minute deal between House conservatives and Republican leadership delayed a floor vote to impeach the head of the IRS last week. But the top taxman isn’t in the clear just yet.

For the first time, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will come under oath to plead his case, appearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. A product of compromise, that impeachment hearing means different things to different factions of Congress.

Freedom Caucus members, who have been demanding Koskinen’s early retirement for months, see the hearing as a formality necessary to fire Koskinen. Others see it as a prerequisite to a longer impeachment process and an opportunity to afford the taxman his right to due process.

It’s undisputed that Koskinen will face an unfriendly jury Wednesday, though.

Fourteen of the 23 Republican Judiciary Committee members have said already that the taxman is guilty of wrongdoing, including Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who first filed articles of impeachment last October.

Making matters worse for the IRS chief, seven Freedom Caucus members sit on the committee, including Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who has helped quarterback the effort to send Koskinen into early retirement.

Conservatives argue that Koskinen is unfit to lead the IRS because he obstructed a congressional investigation into the agency’s unfair treatment of tea party groups applying for tax-exempt status before the 2012 elections.

The White House has been unwavering in their support of Koskinen. Speaking at a Democrat fundraiser last week, President Barack Obama said the impeachment effort “is crazy.” And Koskinen, who has hired a personal defense attorney, maintains that those allegations “lack merit.”

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September 21, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Zidar Presents Business In The United States: Who Owns It And How Much Tax Do They Pay? Today At Columbia

ZidarOwen Zidar (Chicago) presents Business in the United States: Who Owns It and How Much Tax Do They Pay? (with Michael Cooper, John McClelland, James Pearce, Richard Prisinzano, Joseph Sullivan (all of the U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Tax Analysis), Danny Yagan (UC-Berkeley), & Eric Zwick (Chicago)) at Columbia today as part of its Davis Polk & Wardwell Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov and Wojciech Kopczuk:

"Pass-through" businesses like partnerships and S-corporations now generate over half of U.S. business income and account for much of the post-1980 rise in the top-1% income share. We use administrative tax data from 2011 to identify pass-through business owners and estimate how much tax they pay. We present three findings. (1) Relative to traditional business income, pass-through business income is substantially more concentrated among high-earners. (2) Partnership ownership is opaque: 20% of the income goes to unclassifiable partners, and 15% of the income is earned in circularly owned partnerships. (3) The average federal income tax rate on U.S. pass-through business income is 19%--much lower than the average rate on traditional corporations. If pass-through activity had remained at 1980's low level, strong but straightforward assumptions imply that the 2011 average U.S. tax rate on total U.S. business income would have been 28% rather than 24%, and tax revenue would have been approximately $100 billion higher.

Owen Zidar (Chicago), Pass-Through Income and The Top 1%:

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September 20, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump Violated Tax Law In Using $258,000 From His Charity to Settle Legal Problems

Trump (2016-2)Washington Post, Trump Used $258,000 From His Charity to Settle Legal Problems:

Donald Trump spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses, according to interviews and a review of legal documents.

Those cases, which together used $258,000 from Trump’s charity, were among four newly documented expenditures in which Trump may have violated laws against “self-dealing” — which prohibit nonprofit leaders from using charity money to benefit themselves or their businesses.

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September 20, 2016 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

The Top 25 Cities For Law School Graduates

Good Call, 2016’s Best Places for Law School Graduates:

Top 25

Los Angeles is #7, ahead of New York (#40), Chicago (#151), Washington, D.C. (#129) and other large cities such as Atlanta (#45), Boston (#70), Dallas (#41), Houston (#18), Miami (#29), Philadelphia (#89), Phoenix (#88), and San Francisco (#42).


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September 20, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Starstruck States Squander $10 Billion In Film Tax Incentives Producing Minimal Economic Returns

Starstruck States Squander Millions of Tax Dollars on Film Productions, USC Study Finds; Tax Incentives Handed to Filmmakers Offer Minimal Return in Terms of Job or Wage Growth Yet Some States Opt to Outbid Each Other for Films:

Nearly all 50 states have lured Hollywood productions with millions of dollars in special tax incentives for filmmaking, but new USC research shows the incentives fail to deliver the long-term economic benefits promised by industry lobbyists and lawmakers.

“The incentives are a bad investment. States pour millions of tax dollars into a program that offers little return,” said lead author Michael Thom, an assistant professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy who specializes in public finance. “We looked at job growth, wage growth, states’ share of the motion picture industry and the industry’s output in each state. On average, the only benefits were short-term wage gains, mostly to people who already work in the industry. Job growth was almost nonexistent. Market share and industry output didn’t budge.” ...


The five states with the greatest cumulative investment in the motion picture tax credits:

  1. New York, $2.6 billion (enacted 2004)
  2. Louisiana, $1.5 billion (enacted 2002)
  3. Connecticut, $614 million (enacted 2006)
  4. California, $582 million (enacted 2009)
  5. Georgia, $529 million (enacted 2005)

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September 20, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Amidst 23% Enrollment Decline, West Virginia Law School Cuts Tuition 44% For Certain Non-Residents

West Virginia LogoWest Virginia University College of Law (ranked #97 in U.S. News) welcomed 106 1Ls this Fall, up 3% from 2015 (103) but down 23% from 2010 (137).  Last week, West Virginia announced a 44% tuition cut under its Loyalty Tuition Program for non-residents who graduate from a public or private higher education institution in West Virginia by making them eligible for in-state tuition ($20,916 v. $37,674, a $50,274 savings over three years).  Other public law schools offering in-state tuition to certain categories of out-of-state students include Cincinnati, Kansas, UMKC, and Toledo.  Akron charges in-state tuition to everyone.  For more, see Above the Law and National Law Journal

West Virginia's 2016 25%/50%/75% LSAT and GPA are 151/153/156 and 3.06/3.32/3.60. Here are West Virginia's admission data for the prior six years from Law School Transparency:

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September 20, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gamage & Shanske:  The Federal Government's Power To Restrict State Taxation

David Gamage (UC-Berkeley) & Darien Shanske (UC-Davis), The Federal Government's Power to Restrict State Taxation, 81 State Tax Notes 547 (Aug. 15, 2016):

This essay evaluates the limits on the U.S. federal government’s powers to restrict the taxing powers of state governments. The essay revisits earlier debates on this question to consider the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius and also academic research on the problem of tax cannibalization.

September 20, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Could Robots Replace M&A Lawyers?

M&A LawyersThe American Interest, Start-Up Takes Aim at BigLaw:

Venture capital money keeps flowing to promising new tech companies that are working to automate many of the routine tasks conducted highly-paid 20-somethings at big city corporate law firms [First, Let’s Uberize All the Lawyers; Two New Techs Shaking Up the Law Field]. The latest example, from Bloomberg [Mike Lynch’s Invoke Aims to Replace M&A Lawyers With Robots]:

Could the armies of lawyers needed to close billion-dollar deals soon be a thing of the past?

That’s what Invoke Capital, the London-based venture firm run by former Autonomy Plc Chief Executive Officer Mike Lynch, is betting with its latest project financing. Invoke said Wednesday that it’s making an investment in Luminance, a U.K. startup using artificial intelligence to process legal documents and automate due diligence in mergers and acquisitions. ...

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September 20, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1230

IRS Logo 2Americans for Tax Reform, Koskinen's IRS Failed to Search Five of Six Locations for Lois Lerner Emails:

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will appear before the House Judiciary Committee to defend himself against impeachment charges following his role in the Lois Lerner targeting scandal.

Koskinen was appointed to lead the IRS after promising to bring transparency and openness to the embattled agency. He has failed.

The IRS failed to search five of six possible sources of electronic media for Lois Lerner’s emails, according to documentation released by the House Oversight Committee in July 2015.

Over the course of investigations into the Lois Lerner targeting scandal, Commissioner John Koskinen repeatedly assured Congress that he would provide all of Lois Lerner’s emails. But based on testimony from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), this did not occur. The agency’s ineptness -- or corruption -- resulted in 24,000 Lerner emails being lost when they were “accidently” destroyed. 

According to TIGTA official Timothy Camus, the IRS had six possible sources to search for Lois Lerner’s emails:

“The hard drive would have been a source, Blackberry source, backup tapes a source, the backup tapes for the server drives and then finally the loaner lap tops.”

When asked how many of these sources the IRS searched, Camus was unable to say for certain whether the IRS had searched for any. ...

Commissioner Koskinen stated that the IRS took “extraordinary efforts” to recover any emails, but this is clearly not the case. Years after the investigations into the Lois Lerner targeting scandal began, the agency’s unprecedented obstruction has meant Americans are no closer to the truth.

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September 20, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Alstott Presents A New Deal For Old Age: Toward A Progressive Retirement Today At Loyola-L.A.

AAAnne Alstott (Yale) presents A New Deal for Old Age: Toward a Progressive Retirement at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Ellen Aprill and Katherine Pratt:

A growing chorus of policy analysts is calling for an increase in the Social Security retirement age. Even staunch defenders of Social Security have begun to concede that the retirement age of 66 is too low, in light of the increasing longevity, improving health, and expanding work options of older Americans. Still, some progressives worry that the only way to protect disadvantaged workers is to leave the early and full retirement ages as they are. The result is a debate that pits intergenerational fairness against intragenerational fairness: either we shortchange the young (by paying unneeded benefits to the old) or else we shortchange the disadvantaged (by raising the retirement age to levels that are unrealistic for low-earners).

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September 19, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 2016 Florida Bar Exam Results

Florida Bar 2The July 2016 Florida bar passage rates by school are out. The overall pass rate was 68.2%, down 0.7 percentage points from last year and 12 percentage points from 2011.  Here are the results for the 11 Florida law schools, along with each school's U.S. News ranking (Florida and overall):

Bar Pass

Rank (Rate)



US News Rank

FL (Overall)

1 (88.8%)

Florida Int'l

4 (103)

2 (80.6%)


3 (60)

3 (80.5%)


4 (103)

4 (78.8%)

Florida State

2 (50)

5 (78.6%)


1 (48)

6 (66.7%)

Ave Maria

Tier 2

7 (63.0%)


Tier 2

8 (52.9%)

Florida A&M

Tier 2

9 (51.9%)

Florida Coastal

Tier 2

10 (49.0%)


Tier 2

11 (45.5%)

St. Thomas

Tier 2

Here are the results for on the MPRE for the 11 Florida law schools, along with each school's U.S. News ranking (Florida and overall):


Rank (Rate)



US News Rank

FL (Overall)

1 (88.4%)

Florida Coastal

Tier 2

2 (88.1%)

Florida State

2 (50)

3 (87.9%)


Tier 2

4 (87.6%)


4 (103)

5 (85.7%)


3 (60)

6 (83.6%)

Florida Int'l

4 (103)

7 (83.0%)


Tier 2

8 (81.4%)


1 (48)

9 (75.0%)

Ave Maria

Tier 2

10 (71.4%)


Tier 2

11 (60.0%)

Florida A&M

Tier 2

September 19, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (21)

IRS Cracks Down On Foreign Tax Credit Splitters Amidst EU Tax Probes

Ranking The Most (And Least) Diverse Colleges In America

Priceonomics, Ranking the Most (and Least) Diverse Colleges in America:

Top 100

I am delighted that Pepperdine is the eleventh most diverse university among the Top 100 national universities ranked by U.S. News.


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September 19, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

My Take On Robert Rhee's Critique Of Florida's Graduate Tax Program

Florida Logo (GIF)I read with great interest Robert Rhee's 24-page critique of Florida's graduate tax program, the reaction by Florida Law Profs Marty McMahon and Jeff Harrison and a reader of this blog, and Rhee's defense of his letter (as well as the 35 comments, including by Florida Prof Michelle Jacobs; Tax Profs Linda Beale, Erik Jensen, and Mike Livingson; and Law Profs Orin Kerr and Jason Yackee).  Although I was a visiting professor at Florida many years ago and have many friends on the Florida tax faculty, I have no first-hand knowledge of the state of affairs in Gainesville.  I disagree with several aspects of Rhee's letter (e.g., Rhee claims that Florida is the most expensive high quality graduate tax program in the country because "NYU and Georgetown are 100% online" — like several programs, NYU and Georgetown offer both residential and online tax LL.M.s (NYU and Georgetown dub their online degrees "Executive LL.M.s" to distinguish them from their residential LL.M. degrees); Alabama is the only school to offer an exclusively online tax LL.M.).

I want to focus here on Rhee's criticism of the Florida tax faculty's scholarly bona fides.  I have served as associate dean for research at two law schools and have thought quite a bit about the role of law faculty in today's legal education landscape and expressed those views in multiple blog posts, as well as in several law review articles and presentations (listed below).  Rhee's discussion of the Florida tax faculty's scholarly performance considers only one of the several metrics for measuring law faculty scholarship and ignores other aspects of faculty contributions to law school success.

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September 19, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

A Tale Of Two (Los Angeles) Law Schools: Enrollment, Student Quality, And Rankings

Last week, USC (23) passed UCLA (24) in the 2017 U.S. News College Rankings.  In the U.S. News Law School Rankings, UCLA consistently tops USC:


The gap may widen in the 2018 law school rankings.  USC welcomed 231 1Ls this Fall, an increase of 22% from last year (and a 5% increase from 2010), resulting in a one-point decrease in its 50th percentile LSAT, to 165.   UCLA welcomed 293 1Ls this Fall, the same number as last year (and a 5% decrease from 2010), resulting in a one-point increase in its 50th percentile LSAT, to 167.  UCLA now has a higher 50% percentile LSAT than UC-Berkeley (166).  Here are UCLA and USC's admissions data for the prior six years from Law School Transparency:

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September 19, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1229

IRS Logo 2Newsmax, Christie Backs Trump Tax Release Delay Given US Mistrust of IRS:

Donald Trump is being wisely advised to keep his tax forms under wraps during an audit "given the history of the Obama administration" to use IRS In "as a weapon" against conservatives, New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday.

In an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Christie, a former primary presidential candidate who is now one of Trump's top advisers and surrogates, said most Americans' don't trust the IRS.

"Given the history of the Obama administration and IRS to use the IRS as a weapon against conservative groups and candidates, I don't blame the accountants for saying better safe than sorry," he said, in reference to the agency's tea party targeting scandal.

"I bet your listeners and viewers out there don't trust the IRS as far as they could throw them," he added. "I don't blame his lawyers and accountants for telling him until the book is closed, and the IRS can't go after you, you shouldn't release your tax returns."

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September 19, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Robert Rhee Defends His Critique Of Florida's Graduate Tax Program

RheeFollowing up on my prior posts (links below) on Florida's graduate tax program:  TaxProf Blog op-ed: Response to Professor Martin McMahon, by Robert J. Rhee (John H. and Marylou Dasburg Professor of Law, Florida):

I really hoped that I would not have to say anything more beyond my letter itself. But Professor Martin McMahon’s comment needs a response. To be clear, I still respect him for the incredible scholar that he is.

Professor McMahon suggests that my motivation was personal arising from last year’s appointments process. Absolutely not. He is wrong. The appointments committee made decisions that the tax faculty strongly disagreed with. That is no secret in the hallways. I simply say that schools at Florida’s level, premier research institutions, do not hire tenure-track faculty without strong evidence of academic scholarship, the best evidence of which is the existence and presentation of a significant job talk paper to faculty. The central obligation of tenure-track faculty is academic research and writing. This standard applies to tenure-track tax hires as well, though some members of the tax faculty believe that hiring a tenure-track faculty without a job talk paper or any record of law review or other substantial academic scholarship was proper for a research university. The appointments process can sometimes lead to real disagreements, reasonable or not. My disagreement with the tax faculty pertaining to appointments had nothing to do with my letter.

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September 18, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Trump Tax Plan 3.0

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with new papers debuting on the list at #4 and #5:

  1. [414 Downloads]  The True Economic Effects of Corporate Inversions, by Doron Narotzki (Akron)
  2. [370 Downloads]  Property Is Another Name for Monopoly Facilitating Efficient Bargaining with Partial Common Ownership of Spectrum, Corporations, and Land, by Eric A. Posner (Chicago) & E. Glen Weyl (Yale)
  3. [342 Downloads]  Executive Pay: What Worked? , by Steven A. Bank (UCLA), Brian R. Cheffins (Cambridge) & Harwell Wells (Temple)
  4. [146 Downloads]  Financial Advisers Can't Overlook the Prudent Investor Rule, by Max M. Schanzenbach (Northwestern) & Robert H. Sitkoff (Harvard)
  5. [141 Downloads]  Transfer Pricing Money: The Chevron Case, by Richard J. Vann (Sydney) & Graeme S. Cooper (Sydney)

September 18, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harrison:  The Trumpian Discourse About Florida's Graduate Tax Program

Florida Logo (GIF)Following up on my prior posts (links below) on Florida's graduate tax program:  Jeff Harrison (Florida), The Trumpian Approach to Discourse at Florida:

A few days ago Rob Rhee wrote AND SIGNED a report that was highly critical of Florida's LLM in tax program. ... There are two reasonable responses to a report like Rob's. You can disagree with the numbers. ... Or you can claim that his assumption that the tax program should generate a profit is wrong. Since I do not understand why taxpayers should subsidize a program that trains people to assist people and businesses with money to avoid paying taxes, I personally think it needs to generate a significant profit. But we could debate that and I already know some good counter-arguments.

Privately several members of the tax faculty concede that it needs to modernize. A starting point was to assign it to classrooms that fit the number of people enrolled and to find a director to ensure the program flourished. These changes and others were unacceptable to some and the Trumpian name calling and accusations of distortions started. Those most terrified by change and most willing to sacrifice the program to suit their personal desires revved up alums many of whom did not need to hear both sides of the story because, like Trump, their heroes could do no wrong. They had joined the ranks of true believers for whom truth was irrelevant.

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September 18, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (19)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1228

IRS Logo 2Forbes: Congress To IRS: The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves, by Stuart Gibson:

A subset of House Republicans often disagrees with the priorities of their leaders. And the rules allow them to force a floor vote. Their most recent override of leadership’s priorities involves bringing to the House floor a resolution to impeach John Koskinen, who has served as commissioner of internal revenue for the past 33 months – perhaps the longest 33 months of his life. And here I side with leadership.

Koskinen was brought in to help the IRS recover from a 2013 scandal over its handling of applications for tax-exempt status by both right- and left-leaning groups. He took charge of the agency, bringing a can-do attitude and expertise from his experience in private industry. He cleaned house in the offending office and changed the way the IRS processes applications for tax exemption.

Koskinen’s problem was that he took office before congressional Republicans had extracted their pound of flesh from the agency that everyone loves to hate. Having decided upfront that the Obama administration had used the IRS to target its political opponents – a conclusion, unlike President Nixon’s well-documented enemies list, wholly unsupported by the evidence – Republicans began investigations to prove their predetermined conclusion. When they found no proof, they attacked Koskinen for failing to produce evidence confirming their view of what happened.

And it wasn’t just Koskinen. Viewing his alleged non-responsiveness as indicative of the agency’s overall unwillingness to perform sufficient penance for the sins committed by a few employees in one small corner of the agency, Congress placed a tourniquet on the IRS budget. And when that failed to elicit the desired outcome – whatever that might be – Congress tightened the tourniquet.

Here’s the problem: In an effort to punish the IRS institutionally, Congress has punished 90,000-plus dedicated employees who did nothing wrong, along with millions of American taxpayers. The best and brightest IRS employees are leaving – and they are not being replaced. Constituents endure unbearable wait times to get IRS assistance and receive poor service when they manage to reach a human being.

What is Congress’s goal? If it expects to improve taxpayer service by starving the IRS budget, impeaching its leader, and berating its employees, Congress will be disappointed. The longer the beatings continue, the harder it will be for the IRS to attract great – or even competent – leaders and employees, and the longer it will take for Americans actually to receive the service they deserve from the IRS.

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September 18, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Last Night's ABC News 20/20 Program On The Dan Markel Murder:  In-Laws & Outlaws


ABC reports that one of the alleged hit men (Luis Garcia) is negotiating with prosecutors to provide evidence implicating others in Dan Markel's murder in exchange for a reduced sentence in his case.
[See update below: Garcia's lawyer denies this and law enforcement reportedly planted this with 20/20 to spur plea negotiations.]

(Click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate.)

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September 17, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

A Tale Of Two (Arkansas) Law Schools: Enrollment, Student Quality, And Bar Passage

ARKArkansas Project, Bowen School Of Law Bar Passage Rate Drops To Lowest Level Since 2010:

UALR Bowen School Of Law’s first-time bar passage rate on the July 2016 bar exams was the lowest in over half a decade, Dean Michael Schwartz announced yesterday afternoon at a faculty meeting. Schwartz described the results as “less-than-satisfactory” and “disappointing to me.” Schwartz said: Our first time rate was 66 percent. Fayetteville’s was 78 percent.

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September 17, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

More On The Critique Of Florida's Graduate Tax Program

Florida Logo (GIF)Following up on yesterday's posts:

From a reader:

As an outsider who has watched this blog and seen this drama (and I use that term advisedly) unfold, I get the distinct impression that Prof. Rhee has an axe to grind. In any case, anyone who sits back and peruses this report from an informed perspective will see that this seemingly objective analysis is anything but that. Let’s consider a few facts:

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September 17, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1227

IRS Logo 2Letter From Reginald J. Brown (WilmerHale, Washington, D.C.) on Behalf of John Koskinen to House Judiciary Committee (Sept. 16, 2016):

As you know, Commissioner Koskinen deeply respects the work and authority of the Committee and has agreed to testify under oath on Wednesday, September 21, as requested. He hopes to address some of the confusion regarding basic facts and to explain the reforms that the IRS has implemented during his tenure to address unacceptable practices that took place before he arrived at the agency. We appreciate the professionalism and substantive nature of the Committee's inquiry to date under your leadership and hope that you will find the substance and tone of Commissioner Koskinen's testimony constructive and respectful as well.

We are concerned, however, that some may believe that Commissioner Koskinen's voluntary appearance at this hearing is an appropriate substitute for regular order and the traditional approach to addressing impeachment proceedings. As you know, the scheduled hearing, with an opening statement and timed rounds of Member-directed questions on any topic of their choosing, does not reflect the full range of deliberate and balanced procedures that this Committee has developed to ensure fairness and legitimacy in an actual impeachment inquiry.  Those procedures include the right to make opening and closing statements, the right to call and cross-examine witnesses, the right to present evidence, the right to examine all evidence obtained by the Committee, the right to make evidentiary objections for the record, the right to be formally and directly represented in proceedings by counsel, and the right to respond to all evidence cited by the Committee.

Should the Committee proceed to a formal impeachment inquiry, we would expect to be allowed to exercise those rights to present a robust legal and factual defense to the many false allegations that have been lodged against Commissioner Koskinen. Testimony under oath from a single witness-before he has even been allowed to see any evidence against him and with no right to present corroborating evidence to address false or mistaken allegations-is no substitute. Indeed a process of testimony followed immediately by a floor vote, with no established standards, validated evidence, or findings of fact would be more akin to a foreign show trial than the solemn process contemplated by the Framers and generations of Congressional leaders, including Members of this Committee. ...

We hope that, following Wednesday's hearing, this Committee will decide against reporting to the House floor a resolution authorizing a formal impeachment proceeding. However, should the Committee take that step, we are fully prepared to assist the Committee in developing a solid and vetted factual and legal record on which Members can rely in exercising their constitutional responsibility. After reviewing whatever documentary evidence the Committee gathers, we would expect to be allowed to make objections, cross-examine each witness that the resolution's proponents put forward, and call our own witnesses to expose what we believe are blatant factual errors in the resolution. We would also identify the proposed standards for impeachment in the resolution that are inconsistent with the Constitution's commands. We are confident that a complete record would show that the impeachment of Commissioner Koskinen is wholly unwarranted.

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September 17, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Polsky Presents Elite Tax Professionals And The Sordid Management Fee Waiver Saga Today at Florida

Polsky (2015)Gregg Polsky (Georgia) presents Elite Tax Professionals Behaving Badly: The Sad and Sordid Management Fee Waiver Saga at Florida today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Yariv Brauner:

For at least the past 15 years, many private equity fund managers have used a technique—known as a management fee waiver—to try to claim their salaries as capital gains. Recently, the Treasury and IRS explained that, at least in the government’s view, the vast majority of fee waivers do not actually provide the claimed tax result. Reports of recent audit activity relating to fee waivers suggest that the fee waiver saga may finally be coming to an end, but not before billions of dollars of tax revenues have been permanently lost.

While much has been written on the substantive legal issues surrounding fee waivers, there has been no discussion of the prominent role that leading tax professionals have played in drafting, justifying, and defending fee waivers. This article discusses this sad and sordid aspect of the fee waiver saga. It is not a pretty picture.

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September 16, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Daniel Hemel (Chicago) discusses two articles recently posted to SSRN—one by Yair Listokin (Yale), the other by Thomas Brennan (Harvard) and Alvin Warren (Harvard)—which offer illuminating (and divergent) perspectives on the role of realization and deferral in a low interest rate environment.

HemelListokin’s contribution, How To Think About Income Tax When Interest Rates Are Zero, 151 Tax Notes 959 (May 16, 2016), begins with the observation that “[t]he significance of many of income tax law’s core concepts depends on the interest rate.” One example is the realization requirement: Listokin writes that “[w]ith interest rates at zero, the government is indifferent as to whether a taxpayer realizes income now or in the future—as long as the taxpayer’s tax rate is constant across years.” As a result, Listokin says, the tax curriculum and tax law scholarship should focus less on doctrines like the realization requirement that affect the timing of tax payments, and more on doctrines like stepped-up basis that affect the rate at which (and amount on which) tax is paid.

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September 16, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Marty McMahon Responds To Critique Of Florida's Graduate Tax Program

McMahonFollowing up on this morning's post, Florida Law Prof Writes 24-Page Critique Of Graduate Tax Program: Go Online Or Shut Down — 'Hiring More Tax Faculty Is Like Hiring More Sailors To Man The Titanic Once It Has Hit The Iceberg':  TaxProf Blog op-ed: Dear TaxProf Community, by Martin J. McMahon, Jr. (James J. Freeland Eminent Scholar and Director, Graduate Tax Program, Florida):

As the Director of the University of Florida College of Law Graduate Tax Program, I can assure the TaxProf Community that the UF Graduate Tax Program is and will continue to be as strong as is has been for decades.  Once again this year, we have an excellent group of 85 full-time students and last year’s graduates have had success in seeking post-graduation employment as tax lawyers.  Our students, as they always have been, are being taught principally by a highly dedicated and knowledgeable full-time faculty that has produced many tax textbooks, treatises, and articles. We have, and will continue to have, a robust curriculum, including our specialized LL.M. in international tax, which currently enrolls twenty-two students from all around the globe. We have hired a respected consultant who is on-site as an interim director of Graduate Tax Admissions to modernize our application process and expand our outreach to prospective graduate tax students. Some recent retirements by long-time tax faculty members, who are continuing to teach as adjuncts courses in which they had a particular expertise, have opened up three faculty slots which we are seeking to fill this year, as was recently announced on Tax Prof Blog.

Professor Robert Rhee’s highly inaccurate and distorted memorandum critiquing the University of Florida Graduate Tax Program was prepared by him as an individual, not in any official capacity. He did not consult with any member of the tax faculty or directly ask any tax faculty member for any information regarding the long-standing success of the program before preparing and publishing his memorandum. Thus, his memorandum reflects very limited knowledge regarding the long-standing success of the Graduate Tax Program in educating young tax lawyers and helping them to find employment upon graduation.

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September 16, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (16)