TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Best And Worst States For Business: 90% Of The Top 10 Voted For Trump; 80% Of The Bottom 10 Voted For Clinton

Robert W. McGee (Fayetteville State University), The First McGee Annual Report on the Best and Worst States for Business:

This study is the first annual McGee Report on the best and worst states for business. The fifty states are ranked based on the extent to which they facilitate business creation and expansion. This study incorporated the data collected from five other studies, which included the examination of hundreds of variables. Utah was found to be the most business friendly state; California was least business friendly. States that voted Republican in the 2016 presidential election tended to be more business friendly than states that voted Democratic.

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March 21, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (30)

Georgetown Hosts Conference Today On Understanding The House GOP Healthcare Reform Bill

OneillThe Georgetown O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law hosts a conference today on “Repeal and Replace” the Affordable Care Act: Understanding the House GOP Healthcare Reform Bill:

This forum will explain the key features of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the House Republican’s bill to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as the effects of the AHCA on the tax system, the insured (and uninsured) populations, and the national budget. Experts in health law and policy, tax law and policy, social insurance programs, and budget policy will discuss the details of the bill, how it differs from the ACA, the intricacies of Congressional rules and the procedures that are driving the bill’s structure, and the overall state of health care policy in the United States. 

Panel 1:  Taxes and Transfers:

  • Lily Batchelder (NYU), Deficit, Distributional, Coverage, & Premium Effects of the AHCA 
  • John R. Brooks (Georgetown), Tax Credits and Redistribution Under the ACA and the AHCA 
  • Lilian Faulhaber (Georgetown), Taxes and Transfers Under the ACA

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March 21, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kleinbard Presents The Economic And Social Consequences Of Tax Reform At Loyola

Kleinbard (2015)Edward Kleinbard (USC) presented The Economic and Social Consequences of Tax Reform last night at Loyola Marymount University College of Business Administration's Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest's Distinguished Speaker Series (flyer):

Wide-ranging tax reform is a tax priority for Congressional Republican leaders and President Trump. Professor Kleinbard will discuss the implications of proposed tax changes for the economy, social programs, and inequality.

March 21, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times:  Chief Justice Roberts Considers The Case Of Tom Sawyer

Tom SawyerNew York Times: Chief Justice Roberts Considers the Case of Tom Sawyer, by Adam Liptak:

Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain’s fictional rapscallion, turned up on Wednesday night in the ballroom of a fancy Washington hotel. No stranger to adventures and indignities, he was there to endure something new and distinctively American: a lawsuit.

A lighthearted Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. presided over the case, brought by several boys, played by actors, who had come to regret whitewashing Aunt Polly’s fence. Tom’s guile in persuading them to do his work, they said, amounted to fraudulent misrepresentation.

The boys, though of limited means, had somehow managed to hire Paul D. Clement, a legal superstar, to represent them. But Mr. Clement faced an uphill fight.

“Your clients are not blameless in this affair,” Chief Justice Roberts said. “They don’t come here with clean hands. Their purpose in approaching Mr. Sawyer was to taunt him.”

Mr. Clement, who appears frequently before the chief justice in actual Supreme Court arguments, said he worried that his clients — Ben Rogers, Johnny Miller and Billy Fisher — could not get a fair hearing given Tom’s celebrity.

“We don’t play favorites for famous people,” Mr. Clement said. “The law is supposed to treat the Tom Sawyers of the world and the Ben Rogerses of the world the same.”

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March 21, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hemel Presents The Federalist Safeguards of Progressive Taxation Today At NYU

HemelDaniel Hemel (Chicago) presents The Federalist Safeguards of Progressive Taxation at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Rosanne Altshuler:

This essay considers the distributional consequences of the Supreme Court’s federalism jurisprudence over the past quarter century, focusing specifically on the anticommandeering, anti-coercion, and state sovereign immunity doctrines. The first of these doctrines prevents Congress from compelling the states to administer federal programs; the second prevents Congress from achieving the same result through offers that for practical purposes the states cannot refuse; the third prohibits Congress from abrogating state sovereign immunity outside a limited class of cases. These doctrines vest the states with valuable entitlements and allow the states to sell those entitlements back to Congress for a price. In this respect, the doctrines have an intergovernmental distributional effect, shifting wealth from the federal government to the states.

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March 20, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fewer Than 1,000 Taxpayers Come Clean To The IRS On Virtual Currency Transactions

Bitcoin IRSFortune, Only 802 People Told the IRS About Bitcoin—Lawsuit:

The Internal Revenue Service revealed new details about its investigation into tax evasion related to bitcoin, filing court documents that suggest only a tiny percentage of virtual currency owners are reporting profits or losses in their annual returns.

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March 20, 2017 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

More On The 'Full Citizenship Project For All Law Faculty'

DeanFollowing up on last week's post, 'Full Citizenship Project For All Law Faculty' Launched To Correct Gender Disparities Among Law Profs:

Legal Skills Prof Blog: The Role of Legal Writing Professors in the Academy: A Reply to Professor Jason Yackee, by Scott Fruehwald:

In reaction to the announcement on TaxProf Blog, Professor Jason Yackee [Wisconsin] made two comments there that showed an egregious ignorance of the role of legal writing professors in the academy.  This post's purpose is to examine the role of legal writing professors in today's law schools.

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March 20, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Kamin & Setser:  The House Plan's Bad Math — Over-Estimates Of Revenue From A Border Adjustment

David Kamin (NYU) & Brad Setser (Council on Foreign Relations), House Plan's Bad Math: Over-Estimates of Revenue from a Border Adjustment:

One of the largest revenue raisers in the House Republicans’ framework for business tax reform is a “border adjustment.” However, projections of revenue from the border adjustment overstate revenue in two ways.

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March 20, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cincinnati Law School Dean Under Fire From Faculty: Ouster, Vote Of No Confidence Discussed As Provost Unveils 6-Month Plan To 'Restore Mutual Trust And Respect' And Dean Lawyers Up

UC BardCincinnati Business Courier, University of Cincinnati Law Dean Under Fire From Faculty:

A group of faculty at the University of Cincinnati College of Law is calling for the ouster of its new dean less than halfway into her five-year contract due to an apparent conflict of priorities.

Meanwhile, UC's interim provost [Peter Landgren] is drafting a six-month plan to "restore mutual trust and respect" as the result of internal consternation between College of Law dean Jennifer Bard and a group of faculty. ...

[A] group of at least nine law professors discussed holding a vote of no confidence in Bard as early as Nov. 22, 2016. ...

A document announcing the plan drafted in December by Landgren and obtained by the Courier through a public records request states that Bard recognizes that certain decisions she has made in her 18-month tenure have created a rift between her own vision for the law school and that of a group of faculty. "Also recognized by the dean are issues relating to her work with and rapport amongst the college's staff," the document reads. ...

Bard, the first female dean of UC's College of Law, started in July 2015. She has an annual salary of $300,000 and her contract runs through June 2020. She previously served as special assistant to the provost for academic engagement at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and directed its J.D./M.D. program. Bard succeeded Louis Bilionis, who returned to full-time teaching after serving two terms as dean. ...

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March 20, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

ABA Proposes To Eliminate Requirement That More Than 50% Of Law Teaching Be Performed By Full-Time Faculty

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)ABA Journal, ABA's Legal Ed Section Seeks Comments on Proposed Revision to Admissions Test Standard:

Should the American Bar Association’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar devise a process to validate non-LSAT entrance exams? The council has requested notice and comment on how such a test might be established. The proposed revision to Standard 503 calls for the council to establish a process that determines reliability and validity of other tests besides the LSAT. That’s a change from the current version, which directs law schools using alternate admissions tests to demonstrate that the exams are valid and reliable. Any changes would not take place prior to the 2018-2019 admissions cycle. ...

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March 20, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1411: Why Did Donald Trump Fire Sally Yates And Preet Bharara, But Not John Koskinen?

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Washington Examiner, Why Is Trump Afraid of Draining the Swamp at the IRS and Firing John Koskinen?:

Political cartography in Washington can be difficult. After three months in office, it's clear President Trump doesn't believe the D.C. bog includes the federal building at the corner of 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. He won't drain the swamp at the Internal Revenue Service.

Famous for firing people, Trump has disrupted the status quo in the nation's capital with his personnel decisions. He quickly terminated Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, then sacked 46 federal prosecutors. But he won't ax IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Conservatives have been gunning for the tax chief's scalp for years. To no avail, they've tried shaming, officially censuring, and impeaching Koskinen. But now that Trump's in the White House, they're wondering why the president is sheltering the taxman. ...

The Trump White House keeps dodging the question. On Friday, press secretary Sean Spicer referred curious reporters inquiring about Koskinen's fate to the Treasury Department, even after it came to light that the agency still has 7,000 unreleased documents related to the scandal. ...

Trump has every reason to dismiss the tax agent. With Koskinen at the helm, the IRS was able to cover up its targeting scandal. Brought in by President Obama to clean up the agency's image, he turned a blind eye as the IRS covered up its scandal and continued to violate citizen's First Amendment rights.

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March 20, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, March 19, 2017

NY Times:  Will Dropping The LSAT Requirement Create More Miserable Lawyers?

Harvard GREFollowing up on my previous post, Harvard Is Second Law School To Admit 1Ls Based On GRE Rather Than LSAT:  New York Times Sunday Review, Will Dropping the LSAT Requirement Create More Miserable Lawyers?:

Harvard Law School recently announced that it will no longer require Law School Admission Test scores from applicants, joining the University of Arizona James G. Rogers College of Law in this new policy. Students can now submit scores on the Graduate Record Examination, known as the GRE, instead.

The move might succeed in expanding the pool of applicants. But here’s what it won’t do: increase the number of people in law school who actually want to be lawyers.

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March 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (8)

University Of Houston Law School Spent $500k In Attorneys' Fees In Trademark Dispute With South Texas Law School; More Fees Are Coming With Houston Astros On Deck

UHSTHAFollowing up on last week's post, Settlement Finalized In University Of Houston And South Texas Houston Law Schools Trademark Dispute; Houston Astros Are On Deck:  Houston Chronicle, What's in a Name? $500K in Legal Fees For UH Over Law School Dispute:

The University of Houston spent more than $500,000 on legal fees challenging a crosstown rival law school's new name over the past 10 months in a federal trademark dispute finally resolved through mediation, a university spokesman said Friday.

But the costs may continue to mount as UH faces potential trademark challenges from the Houston Astros and Houston Community College over its attempt to claim the word "Houston" for educational purposes.

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March 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThis week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's list. The #1 paper is now #112 in all-time downloads among 12,595 tax papers:

  1. [1,590 Downloads]  The Known Unknowns of the Business Tax Reforms Proposed in the House Republican Blueprint, by Michael J. Graetz (Columbia)
  2. [525 Downloads]  How Donald Trump can Keep His Campaign Promises, Grow the Economy, Cut Tax Rates, Repatriate Offshore Earnings, Reduce Income Inequality, Keep Jobs in the United States, and Reduce the Deficit, by David S. Miller (Proskauer, New York)
  3. [424 Downloads]  Accounting for Behavioral Considerations in Business Tax Reform: The Case of Expensing, by Lily L. Batchelder (NYU)
  4. [346 Downloads]  Predicting Stock Market Prices with Physical Laws, by Jack Manhire (Texas A&M)
  5. [253 Downloads]  Important Developments in Federal Income Taxation, by Edward A. Morse (Creighton)

March 19, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

25 Catholic Law School Deans Join ABA, 150 Law Firms In Opposing President Trump's Proposed Elimination Of The Legal Services Corp.

LSC (2017)National Law Journal, Legal Services Corp., Under Trump, Faces New Threat to Existence:

The Legal Services Corp., created in 1974 under the signature of President Richard Nixon, is once again on the chopping block as another Republican president — Donald Trump — proposes to zero out its funding in his first budget. The group’s 2017 budget request was $502 million.

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March 19, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1410: Judicial Watch Forces Disclosure Of New Documents

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Breitbart op-ed: Obama IRS Scandal Continues – Judicial Watch Forces IRS to Disclose New Documents, by Tom Fitton (President, Judicial Watch):

We have no intention to allow the extra-legal activities of former President Obama’s administration to fade into the sunset now that he is out of office. Particularly egregious was his use of the might of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to target groups that disagreed with his political views.
And heel-dragging at the IRS continues.

Last week, Judicial Watch reported that the agency informed the U.S. District Court that it located “an additional 6,924 documents of potentially responsive records” relating to our 2015 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit regarding the Obama IRS targeting scandal.

The lawsuit at issue sought records about the IRS selection of individuals and organizations for audits based upon applications requesting non-profit tax status filed by Tea Party and other 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations (Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:15-cv-00220)). ...

The corruption at the IRS is astounding. Our attorneys knew that there were more records to be searched, but the Obama IRS ignored this issue for years.

Remember that in July 2015, we released Obama IRS documents confirming that the agency used donor lists of tax-exempt organizations to target those donors for audits. The documents also show that IRS officials specifically highlighted how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may come under “high scrutiny” from the IRS.

In September 2014, another JW FOIA lawsuit forced the release of documents detailing that the IRS sought, obtained, and maintained the names of donors to tea party and other conservative groups. IRS officials acknowledged in these documents that “such information was not needed.” The documents also show that the donor names were being used for a “secret research project.”

The Obama IRS scandal continues, and President Trump needs to clean house at the IRS as quickly as possible.

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March 19, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

The BigLaw Massacre Approaches

Robot Lawyer 2The American Interest, The BigLaw Massacre Approaches:

Bad news for the tens of thousands of newly minted lawyers who pass the bar every year and hope to get associate positions at big law firms sorting through documents for corporate clients: Robots are taking your jobs[,] Blommberg reports [JPMorgan Software Does in Seconds What Took Lawyers 360,000 Hours]. ...

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March 18, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Republicans Keep Repeating The Same Tax Mistake

Laffer Curve (2017)Bloomberg View:   Republicans Keep Repeating the Same Tax Mistake, by Megan McArdle:

It looks as if Governor Sam Brownback may be leaving Kansas to take up a job at the United Nations. Brownback’s critics, of which there are many, charge that having led his state into a fiscal crisis, he’s bailing out on the wagon train while the rest of his party staggers onward over the cliff. “Brownback would be fleeing a political and economic crisis,” writes Alan Pyke of ThinkProgress, “leaving about 3 million Kansans behind in a budgetary inferno of his own devising.”

You can certainly see why Brownback would want to get out. After Republicans pushed through aggressive tax cuts in 2012 and 2013, the state keeps coming up with deep budget holes that have to be patched in an annual scramble. This year’s drama is still being played out after the governor vetoed a plan to raise taxes, and the state Senate responded by crushing Brownback’s proposed alternative.

For budget wonks, the saga of the Kansas budget will be reminiscent of the Reagan years, when supply-side tax cuts resulted in big deficits. The administration had hoped that the tax cuts could be paid for by a combination of faster economic growth unleashed by lower marginal rates, and the infamous “magic asterisk” (in which unidentified spending cuts were promised, details to come later).

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March 18, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

University Of Idaho Law School Opens Second Location In Boise. Will It Be The Death Knell For Concordia Law School?

Boise 2Following up on my previous post, Two New Law Schools Planned in Boise, Idaho: Concordia University and University of Idaho:  Press Release, American Bar Association Approves First-Year Law Program in Boise (press coverage):

The American Bar Association (ABA) approved the opening of a first-year law program in Boise for the University of Idaho College of Law. The Idaho State Board of Education approved the first-year law program in February. A first-year law program will now be available in both the Moscow and Boise locations beginning this fall semester. ...

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March 18, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1409:  'After School Satan Club' Granted Tax-Exempt Status In 10 Days While Conservative Groups Waited Years

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Judicial Watch Press Release, IRS Gives “After School Satan Club” Tax-Exempt Status in 10 Days:

While the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) makes conservative groups wait years for tax-exempt status an “After School Satan Club” launched to hinder Christian-based counterparts got its nonprofit ranking in just ten days, records obtained by Judicial Watch show. The classification is offered to charitable, religious and educational organizations that operate as nonprofits. Under the Obama administration IRS political appointees illegally targeted conservative groups, either making them wait up to seven years for tax-exempt status or denying their application altogether. Judicial Watch uncovered that scandal and has obtained piles of government records showing how the IRS illegally colluded with another federal agency to single out groups with conservative-sounding terms such as patriot and Tea Party in their titles when applying for tax-exempt status.

In the meantime, leftist groups like the Satan club got fast tracked. The principle goal of establishing the Satan clubs in public schools throughout Washington State appears to be to counter existing enterprises operated by a Christian-based group. Documents obtained by Judicial Watch include the process of establishing an after-school Satan club at Point Defiance Elementary in Tacoma. The entity behind the club is a nonprofit called Reason Alliance, which is based in Somerville, Massachusetts, and operates in Washington State as the Satanic Temple of Seattle. Its director, Lilith X. Starr, established the Point Defiance Elementary Satanic club, the records show. In its application the club states that its purpose is “character development” and that adult instructors are vetted by the Satanic Temple’s “Executive Ministry.” Children ages 5-12 will develop basic critical reasoning, character qualities, problem solving and creative expression, according to the Satanic Temple filings included in the documents. The club logo is a pencil with devil’s horns. Records obtained by Judicial Watch from the Treasury Department show that the Satanic cult applied for tax-exempt status on October 21, 2014 and received it on October 31, 2014.

The parent permission forms ask for the name of the child’s church and pastor, the records show. They also reveal that Starr, the Seattle Satanic Temple director, told Tacoma School District Superintendent Carla Santorno that the clubs are led by “caring Satanists” and each child receives a membership card. Starr also tells the superintendent that the effort to establish after-school Satan clubs in Tacoma schools is in direct response to the Christian-based Good News Clubs operating in campuses throughout the district. This ignited concern among some Tacoma district officials, the records show. In one electronic mail exchange, Tacoma Schools official Andrea O-Brien-Henley sends colleague Paul Koch a citation from the Satanic Temple’s website noting that the temple only wants to establish after-school Satan clubs in school districts with Christian Good News Clubs. O’Brien-Henley notes that it’s odd that the Satanic Temple only targets schools that have Good News Clubs, writing to hear colleague: “If they really want to get their message out to kids it seems kind of odd that they would only be targeting schools with a Good News Club; one would think that they would want to start clubs anywhere there is an *interest* in them.”

Here’s the citation that O’Brien-Henley forwarded to fellow school district official Koch from the Satanic Temple’s website: “How do I start an After School Satan Club in my school district? If there isn’t a chapter of The Satanic Temple near you, but you’re interested in starting and After School Satan Club in your school district, please contact The Satanic Temple. Please keep in mind that the Satanic Temple is not interested in operating After School Satan Clubs in school districts that are not already hosting the Good News Club. However, The Satanic Temple ultimately intends to have After School Satan Clubs operating in every school district where the Good News Club is represented.”

In another exchange, the Executive Director of Communications for the Tacoma School District, Dan Voelpel, expresses concern to colleagues that people will confuse the school district’s message of tolerance toward the Satan Club with tolerance toward alleged “hate-related activities around the country in the wake of the presidential election.” In the records the principal of Point Defiance Elementary reveals that, two weeks after the Satan club was launched, no one had signed up for it. The fact remains however, that the IRS fast-tracked a deranged Satanic cult to operate as a nonprofit in taxpayer-funded elementary schools.

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March 18, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Weekly Tax Highlight And Roundup

This week, Joe Kristan (CPA & Shareholder, Roth & Company (Des Moines, Iowa); Editor, Tax Update Blog) discusses a recent Tax Court case highlighting the difficulty S corporation shareholders face in overcoming the way an item is characterized on a K-1.  

KristanDon’t let the K-1 hit you on the way out the door.

Sometimes people become shareholders of S corporations without really understanding what they are getting into. Yesterday the Tax Court dealt with an S corporation shareholder who apparently didn’t understand just what he was getting out of.

The taxpayer owned 50% of Resort Builders, a construction company, with his brother, John. They operated as an S corporation, with the corporate earnings being taxed on the owner 1040s based on Forms K-1 allocating the corporation income.

Over time the brothers had a falling out. Judge Vasquez explains:

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March 17, 2017 in Tax, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, David Gamage (Indiana) reviews a new draft article by John R. Brooks (Georgetown), The Definitions of Income, 71 Tax L. Rev. __ (forthcoming).

Gamage (2017)The question of “what is income” is often the starting point for law school tax courses. This question has also been the subject of a number of great debates in tax legal scholarship over the past century. Assessing some of these debates, Brooks argues that “income is not a pure, external concept, but actually a constructed concept that necessarily embodies policy, and therefore political, goals.” As Brooks explains, this conclusion echoes and builds on the arguments of prior giants of tax legal scholarship—especially Boris Bittker.

Brooks’s article makes valuable contributions in summarizing and assessing the intellectual history of debates over the “what is income” question.

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March 17, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

2018 U.S News Law School Rankings: Average Student Debt

2018 U.S. News Law 2Following up on my posts (links below) on the 2018 U.S. News Law School Rankings:  Matt Leichter, Only 13 Law Schools Didn't Report 2016 Graduate Debt to U.S. News:

Each year U.S. News & World Report lists law schools by the average indebtedness of their graduates. Importantly, the figures exclude accrued interest, which can be quite considerable. However, these numbers are probably the best estimate of the cost of attendance at a particular law school presented in a comparable form. The ABA does not publicize graduate debt in the 509 information reports, making U.S. News an unfortunately necessary source.

Here are the 25 law schools with the highest amount of average law school debt (among those students with law school debt).

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March 17, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Hemel & Herzig:  The GOP Health Care Plan’s Fatal Flaw

New York Times op-ed:  The G.O.P. Health Care Plan’s Fatal Flaw, by Daniel Hemel (Chicago) & David Herzig (Valparaiso):

[N]early seven years after his death, Senator Byrd may ensure that the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, lives another day. One of Byrd’s many legislative accomplishments over a half-century in the Senate was the eponymous “Byrd rule,” which governs the process of budget reconciliation. Republicans on Capitol Hill are trying to use the reconciliation process to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The Byrd rule stands in their way.

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March 17, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jewish UC-Hastings Law Student Is Victim Of Hate Crime: Burning Of Mezuzah On Frame Of Dorm Door

Hastings 4NBC Bay Area, UC Hastings Law Student Targeted by Vandals in Possible Hate Crime:

A Bay Area law student was the target of vandals last week, and police are investigating it as a possible hate crime.

In what is being called an act of anti-Semitism at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, someone burned the mezuzah that was hanging on the door frame outside of a dorm unit inside what is known as The Tower, police said.

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March 17, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1408: Why Won't The Media Cover It?

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The Hill op-ed: Why Won't the Media Cover IRS Scandals?, by Jenny Beth Martin (President & Co-Founder, Tea Party Patriots):

Sometimes the most insidious attack on our individual liberty arises not from the government’s wholesale trampling on those rights, but instead from a widespread chilling effect, in which individuals “self-police” or regulate their behavior out of fear of the government’s retaliation.

The years-long IRS scandal surrounding its abuse of power when it engaged in a systematic targeting of conservatives is a powerful example of the government’s ability to initiate a chilling effect on free speech.

It has been nearly four years since the IRS admitted in May of 2013 to singling out and targeting conservative groups, especially tea party groups, for additional scrutiny, onerous paperwork, and even audits. The IRS’s abusive targeting, which lasted for years, was entirely motivated by political animus and caused untold — incalculable, even — devastation to conservatives and to conservative groups. ...

After meeting with, and speaking with, hundreds of local tea party organization members in 2013, I was convinced of three key points: 1) the IRS’s targeting scandal had had a profound impact on organizations’ abilities to attract new members, fundraise, and engage on important policy battles; 2) the chilling effect of the federal government’s actions was real, devastating, and impossible to calculate; and 3) the American public needed to know the full extent of the targeting scandal so we could ensure it would never happen again.

When news of the targeting became public, the media was completely disinterested. And, now, four years later, it seems, not much has changed with the media’s interest levels.

Just this past week, the IRS revealed that it had found nearly 7,000 documents potentially related to the targeting of tea party groups. Yes, the agency that has stone-walled Congress for four years, lost computers and hard drives and tens of thousands of emails, just discovered 6,924 documents in response to an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from Judicial Watch.

Mainstream media outlets have barely reported on this latest revelation at all. And why should they? It’s only the latest chapter in a tome the media has made clear it has no intention of sharing with the American public. ...

Two hallmarks of a free society are that individuals do not have to live in fear that their political views or activities will cause them to be subjected to abuse by the federal taxing agency, and that the press holds government accountable when it becomes abusive to its citizens. It seems, in both areas, we have a lot more work to do.

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March 17, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tax Prof Wedding: Tessa Davis

WeddingContinuing a joyous TaxProf tradition (see individual wedding links below):  Tax Prof Tessa Davis (South Carolina) and Jon Huggett were married on March 11:

We held the wedding at a beautiful old home by a pond just outside of Columbia, South Carolina. As my position at South Carolina was what brought us here from New Orleans (where we met) it was really meaningful to get married in our new home city. A number of Jon's friends from New Orleans stood up with him, as did his brother. My side consisted of five bridesmaids and two bridesmen, all friends from childhood or college. The day, though a bit chillier than expected, was perfect. We had about 100 guests made up of family and friends from the many places we've lived. The ceremony was wonderfully true to us and officiated beautifully by my brother (a law prof at UC-Irvine). There was a even a Code head joke! We couldn't have hoped for a better celebration!

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March 16, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Weddings, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Joint Tax Committee:  Overview Of The Federal Tax System

Joint Committee on Taxation, Overview Of The Federal Tax System As In Effect For 2017 (JCX-17-17) (March 15, 2017):

This document ... provides a summary of the present-law Federal tax system as in effect for 2017. The current Federal tax system has four main elements: (1) an income tax on individuals and corporations (which consists of both a “regular” income tax and an alternative minimum tax);  (2) payroll taxes on wages (and corresponding taxes on self-employment income) to finance certain social insurance programs; (3) estate, gift, and generation-skipping taxes, and (4) excise taxes on selected goods and services. This document provides a broad overview of each of these elements.

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March 16, 2017 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Positive Legal Education: Flourishing Law Students And Thriving Law Schools

Debra S. Austin (Denver), Positive Legal Education: Flourishing Law Students and Thriving Law Schools:

There is a wellbeing crisis in the legal field and legal education may be the catalyst. Law students are the most dissatisfied, demoralized, and depressed of graduate student populations. The Socratic method is infamous for inducing anxiety in law students and law school grades are often determined by a single final exam at the end of a grueling semester. Law students cite competition, grades, and workload as major stressors, and if legal educators ignore their harmful impact, it will likely suppress learning and fuel illness.

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March 16, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (7)

Kleinbard:  Trump's Reckless Spending And Tax Cuts

CNN op-ed:  Trump's Reckless Spending and Tax Cuts, by Edward D. Kleinbard (USC):

President Trump's budget outline combines a surge in military spending with massive tax cuts, purportedly in the name of stimulating our stagnant economy. This strategy follows closely the fiscal agenda of Ronald Reagan — modern history's most fiscally irresponsible President.

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March 16, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Muller:  Law Professors Are Tough Graders (Of Other Law Schools)

2018 U.S. News Law 2Derek Muller (Pepperdine), Do Law Professors Generally Think Most Other Law Schools Are Pretty Awful?:

The U.S. News & World Report ("USNWR") law school rankings include a number of illuminating bits of information and some weaknesses, as I displayed yesterday. But a cursory look at Paul Caron's display of the peer reputation scores displays, perhaps, a startling truth: law professors generally think most other law schools are pretty awful. (I qualify that with "other" because I think most law professors generally think their own schools are probably pretty good.) ...

One might expect to see a fairly ordinary distribution between 5 and 1, perhaps a bell curve with a bulk of schools in the range of 3 in the middle. But it turns out law professors think little of other schools.

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March 16, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Making Tax Evasion Great: The $100 Billion Giveaway

Democracy Logo (2018)Democracy: A Journal of Ideas: Making Tax Evasion Great: The $100 Billion Giveaway, by Robert Gordon & David Kamin (NYU):

The President may talk about “law and order,” but apparently he excludes tax law.

President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget has proposed a 14.1 percent cut in funding for the Internal Revenue Service. If made permanent, we conservatively estimate that this cut will cost the Treasury $60 billion, just from direct revenue loss due to reduced enforcement (and netting out the reduced spending on IRS enforcement). This new cut follows a more than 20 percent real reduction in resources for IRS enforcement since 2010. Undoing that reduction could save the federal government an additional $30 to $40 billion. All together, the President’s failing to restore these previous cuts and then cutting even more allows handouts to tax evaders costing the Treasury about $100 billion over ten years.

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March 16, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

March Madness Law School Bracket

Here is the March Madness Law School Bracket, with outcomes determined by the 2018 U.S. News Law School Rankings (using academic peer reputation and student quality as tiebreakers). The Final Four are Michigan (8), Virginia (8), Northwestern (10), and UCLA (15), with Virginia beating Michigan in the championship game, based on student quality.

Law School Bracket

March 16, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1407: NY Post Editorial, Fire The IRS Chief Already, Mr. President

IRS Logo 2

New York Post Editorial, Fire the IRS Chief Already, Mr. President:

Why is IRS Commissioner John Koskinen still in office? A growing number of Capitol Hill Republicans want to know — and they have good reason to be troubled.

When he took over in 2013, Koskinen was supposed to “fix” the IRS — and in particular get to the bottom of the scandal in which the agency deliberately held up approvals for 75 conservative and Tea Party groups that had applied for legitimate tax exemptions.

Instead, what Congress and the public got from him was obstruction, open defiance and a refusal to discipline anyone at the agency. Indeed, he seemed most concerned with running interference to shield the Obama administration from any embarrassment.

Nor was he alone: The Obama Justice Department refused to bring criminal charges against anyone at the IRS. To date, no one has been held accountable for what even liberal legal icon Laurence Tribe has called “inexcusable abuse.” ...

It’s clear there’ll be no IRS reforms while Koskinen is in office. He’s the No. 1 candidate in Washington for President Trump’s signature line: “You’re fired.”

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March 16, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Law School Rankings By Student Quality (LSAT And UGPA)

2018 U.S. News Law 2Christopher J. Ryan Jr. (Vanderbilt) & Brian L. Frye (Kentucky), A De Gustibus Approach to Ranking Law Schools:

The U.S. News & World Report “Best Law Schools Rankings” define the market for legal education. Law schools compete to improve their standing in the rankings and fear any decline. But the U.S. News rankings incite contention, because they rely on factors that are poor proxies for quality like peer reputation and expenditures per student. While many alternative law school rankings exist, none have challenged the market dominance of the U.S. News rankings. Presumably the U.S. News rankings benefit from a first-mover advantage, other rankings fail to provide a clearly superior alternative, or some combination of the two.

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March 15, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Smart Presents Why The Dividend Tax Credit? Today At Toronto

Smart 2Michael Smart (Toronto) presents Why the Dividend Tax Credit? at Toronto today as part of its James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series:

In this paper, I discuss the tax treatment of personal dividend income in Canada. Incorporating the changing parameters of the dividend gross-up-and-credit system since 1972, including provincial credits, I estimate the effective tax rate on eligible and ordinary dividend income of taxable investors, and compare it to that applying to other income sources. The effective tax rate on dividend income has decreased substantially and, since the 2006 enhancement of the dividend tax credit, dividend taxes in Canada have been fully integrated or overintegrated for taxable investors. Based on a new methodology, I estimate the fiscal cost of the system to federal and provincial governments. The cost of the DTC has increased markedly since the 2006 reform and is large. About 70 per cent of the tax benefit accrues to taxpayers in the top 10 per cent of the income distribution and, for shareholders in this group, the impact on overall progressivity of the tax system is substantial.

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March 15, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Strips Tax-Exempt Status From Richard Spencer's White Nationalist Nonprofit

NPI 3Following up on my previous post, Alt-Right Group Has Not Filed Form 990s Due To IRS Error, Allowing Group's Finances To Escape Scrutiny:  Los Angeles Times, IRS Strips Tax-Exempt Status from Richard Spencer's White Nationalist Nonprofit:

The nonprofit run by one of America’s most prominent white nationalists, Richard Spencer, has lost its tax-exempt status for failing to file tax returns with the federal government, according to Internal Revenue Service records.

An inquiry by The Times also raised questions about whether Spencer had properly filed paperwork allowing the National Policy Institute to raise funds in Virginia, its primary place of business, and whether Spencer, a Donald Trump supporter, had flouted federal rules that forbid nonprofits from supporting or opposing political candidates.

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March 15, 2017 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

How Federal Tax Law Rewards Segregation

Michelle D. Layser (Georgetown), How Federal Tax Law Rewards Segregation, 93 Ind. L.J. ___ (2018):

Residual, de facto segregation is among the most enduring barriers to equal opportunity in America. Nearly five decades after the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Blacks and Latinos still tend to live in neighborhoods where the majority of residents are people of color. Such racial segregation is often accompanied by economic segregation. Meanwhile, sociologists, housing law scholars, and poverty law experts have stressed the importance of residential location to the impact of poverty and the potential for upward economic mobility. But an unlikely source of federal housing law—the tax code—may interfere with efforts to promote more integrated communities.

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March 15, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

2018 U.S. News Tax Rankings

2018 U.S. News LawHere are the new 2018 U.S. News Tax Rankings, along with last year's rankings:





























Boston University









San Diego



























Boston College






U. Washington












Washington U.


The biggest upward moves:

  • +4:  Villanova (#20)
  • +3   Texas (#12), Chicago (#19)
  • +2:  UCLA (#7), Duke (#16), Pennsylvania (#16), Yale (#18)
  • Denver (#25) and U. Washington (#26) were unranked last year

The biggest downward moves:

  • -5:  Michigan (#14)
  • -4:  U. Washington (#20)
  • -3:  USC (#12), Boston College (#20), Indiana (#23)
  • Florida State (#23 last year) is unranked this year

Here are the rankings of the graduate tax programs, along with last year's rankings.

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March 15, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Donald Trump's 2005 Tax Return (Form 1040)

Trump 2005 Tax Return (Clip)


Adam Chodorow (Arizona State), The Sliver of Trump’s Tax Return That MSNBC Obtained Tells Us Almost Nothing About His Finances. Demand More.:

On Tuesday evening, MSNBC began to tout what seemed to be a major scoop: It had a Trump tax return. The investigative journalist David Cay Johnston had received documents in the mail, and Rachel Maddow would tell all at the appointed hour. A previous leak during the campaign, to the New York Times, suggested that Trump had taken a $1 billion tax loss in the 1990s under circumstances that suggested aggressive tax planning at the best and flat-out cheating at the worst. However, we didn’t have the full returns to figure out what had actually happened.

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March 15, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (17)

Florida Law School Rankings War Intensifies: UF Marches Toward Top 35, FSU Says It Is Best Law School In State And Aims For Top 4 National Public Law School (With Michigan, UC-Berkeley & Virginia)

UFFSUFollowing up on last year's post, Laura Rosenbury Stakes Her Deanship On Raising Florida's Ranking To #35; Amidst Claims Of Sexism, Her Regime Comes Under Fire, With The Graduate Tax Program Its Flashpoint:  Florida Dean Laura Rosenbury is already halfway toward her goal of being a Top 35 law school with a 7-point improvement in its U.S. News ranking, to #41.

University of Florida Press Release, UF Law Jumps Seven Spots in U.S. News Rankings:

The University of Florida Levin College of Law climbed seven spots in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings of the nation’s best law schools, placing at No. 41 overall. This rise is the largest year-to-year increase in over 20 years and is the second largest improvement of any law school ranked in the top 50. The Graduate Tax Program held its spot as the No. 1 program among public law schools and No. 3 overall. ...

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March 15, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Pepperdine Is #1 In ADR, #5 In Practical Training

2018 U.S. News LawFor the twelfth time in thirteen years, Pepperdine Law School's Straus Institute has been ranked the #1 dispute resolution program in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Congratulations to Tom Stipanowich and his faculty and staff colleagues for this well deserved recognition of the amazing academic programs and training and conferences they offer.

In addition, Pepperdine has been named the fifth best law school for practical training by The National Jurist (Spring 2017):


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March 15, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kamin Presents Getting Americans To Save: In Defense Of (Reformed) Tax Incentives Today At Tulane

KaminDavid Kamin (NYU) presents Getting Americans to Save: In Defense of (Reformed) Tax Incentives, 70 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2017), at Tulane today as part of its Workshop on Regulation and Coordination Series:

According to the most recent literature, one of the primary systems for getting Americans to save more — a system of tax-preferred retirement accounts — is fundamentally broken and should be abandoned. This system of 401(k)s, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and other tax-preferred accounts cost the government about $80 billion per year, and influential new research by Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and co-authors — among others — suggests that tax incentives like these are unable to substantially increase private saving. However, this case against tax incentives is overstated.

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March 14, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Gamage & Shanske:  Tax Cannibalization And Fiscal Federalism

David Gamage (Indiana) & Darien Shanske (UC-Davis), Tax Cannibalization and Fiscal Federalism in the United States, 111 Nw. U. L. Rev. 295 (2017):

The current structure of U.S. federal tax law incentivizes state governments to adopt tax policies that inflict costs on the federal government, at the expense of national welfare. We label this the “tax cannibalization problem.”

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March 14, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Winners And Losers In The 2018 U.S. News Law School Rankings ... Should It Matter?

2018 U.S. News LawFollowing up on this morning's post, 2018 U.S. News Law School Peer Reputation Rankings (And Overall Rankings):  National Law Journal, U.S. News Law School Rankings Are Good News for Northwestern, Bummer for Berkeley:

After flirting with the top 10 on the U.S. News & World Report’s annual law school rankings for most of the past decade, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law has finally broken through.

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March 14, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Brooks:  The Definitions Of Income

John R. Brooks (Georgetown), The Definitions of Income, 71 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2017):

What is income? It’s a seemingly simple question that’s surprisingly hard to answer. Income is the basis for assigning tax burdens, for distributing transfers, and for broader normative issues of inequality and justice. Yet we lack a shared conception of income, and a pure, rigorous definition of income is impossible. In this Article I review the intellectual history of the income concept among tax and fiscal theorists to show the difficulty of the problem, and also to show that some important debates about what’s proper under an income tax can be explained instead as arguments over competing income definitions that necessarily incorporate policy choices. These insights are applied to more modern questions, like the role of tax expenditure analysis and optimal income tax theory. I also perform — for the first time in the literature — a close examination and comparison of 12 different income definitions used by the federal government for different purposes. This examination illustrates that there is wide range of income concepts actively in use, but that the measure of income for tax purposes has a prominent and growing role.

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March 14, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)