TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, September 28, 2015

Dean Performs Heimlich On Provost

Details here.

September 28, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 872

IRS Logo 2RedState:  Is the IRS in Collusion with the Clinton Foundation? Charles Ortel’s Quest to Expose Clinton Foundation Fraud Has a Lois Lerner Connection, by Myra Adams:

Does anyone remember Henry Markopolos? In case you don’t, he was the former securities industry executive who for nine years persistently, but unsuccessfully, tried to convince the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that the respected securities investment firm headed by Bernie Madoff was engaged in massive long-term fraud.

Fast forward to 2009 when Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for operating the largest private Ponzi scheme in history adding up to billions of dollars in client losses.

In 2010, Markopolos wrote about his dramatic whistle-blower experience in a book aptly titled,  “No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller.”

So why am I bringing up the heroic efforts of Harry Markopolos?

The answer is a whistle-blower in the mold of Markopolos has come to my attention and his name is Charles Ortel. Like Markopolos, Ortel has a background as a financial industry executive in addition to a successful track record of identifying economic trends and systemic problems within companies, most notably General Electric.

Throughout 2015, Ortel has carefully studied and documented a decade’s worth of domestic and global fraud, theft, corruption and violations of strict IRS rules being perpetrated by a prestigious multi-billion dollar charitable organization known as the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Unlike Markopolos, who went to the SEC and was largely ignored because of incompetence, Ortel believes that the IRS is actively in collusion with the Clinton Foundation.

Collusion with the high-profile charity explains why the IRS is not thoroughly investigating Ortel’s carefully documented allegations of illegal activity on a scale so grand that a major audit would certainly be triggered if the name of the foundation was not “Clinton.”

Only collusion explains why, for over a decade, the IRS has allowed the Clinton Foundation, and all its umbrella organizations with different names to operate outside the strict rules and regulations under which all tax-exempt charities must operate or risk losing their tax-exempt status.

Ortel calculates that 2004 was the year when the foundation began engaging in massive fraud. Now guess who was director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Rulings & Agreements Division at that time? And guess who in December of 2005 was promoted to director of the entire IRS Exempt Organizations Division? Does the name Lois Lerner ring a bell?

The now disgraced Ms. Lerner resigned and retired from the IRS in September of 2013. In May of 2014 she refused to testify before a congressional committee. She then invoked the 5th Amendment, and was found in contempt of Congress. Lerner became the name most associated with what is still an ongoing IRS investigation as to why and how her department consistently denied tax-exempt status to conservative groups.

Ortel told RedState that he believes Lerner, a known partisan Democrat, “looked the other way at the IRS, thus allowing the Clinton Foundation’s cancer to spread.”

But even with Lerner long gone, Ortel says “Clinton acolytes are spread throughout the IRS.” Certainly those allegations help answer the question I posed two weeks ago on National Review: “Where are the Clinton Foundation’s Revised IRS 990 Forms?”

Fortunately my piece caught Ortel’s eye and now, after many discussions, I realize that asking why the IRS has yet to crack down on the Clinton Foundation for their delayed 2014 Form 990 along with years of promised revised filings, barely scratches the surface.

With the IRS ignoring Ortel, he is seeking nationally known investigative journalists to help him gain some traction in the mainstream media for his politically charged allegations in hopes that the Clinton Foundation IRS corruption scandal will “go viral.” ...

Finally, the National Journal’s Ron Fournier added some fuel to Ortel’s fire. In a piece demanding that Hillary Clinton either “come clean or get out,” Fournier hearkens back to that famous phrase, “follow the money” attributed to “Deep Throat” in the Watergate scandal when he writes that a Clinton loyalist said to him, “The emails are a related but secondary scandal. Follow the foundation money.”

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September 28, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Columbia Memorial Service For Marvin Chirelstein

ChirelsteinColumbia Law School is holding a memorial service this Wednesday for the legendary Marvin Chirelstein, who died on February 16 at the age of 86.  From Dean Gillian Lester:

Please join me to celebrate the life and achievements of our beloved friend and colleague Marvin Chirelstein. The memorial will be held as follows:

Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Time: 6 p.m. Location: Jerome Greene Hall, Room 104

A reception in Drapkin Lounge will immediately follow.

Please email Briana Florio if you plan to attend.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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September 27, 2015 in Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

Public Attitudes Towards Prayer, Wealth, Health, And Tax Exemption For Churches

YouGov, 38% of Born Again Christians Believe Prayer Can Boost Your Wealth:

YouGov's research shows that a large majority of Americans (73%) do not believe that wealth is a sign of God's favor. Even most born again Christians (56%) disagree with that belief, though born again Christians (24%) are more than twice as likely as the rest of the country (10%) to believe that God favors the wealthy. ...

18% of Americans believe that prayer can make you wealthier, but born again Christians (38%) are nearly three times as likely as the rest of the population (13%) to believe this. Belief that prayer can improve your health is, however, a much more popular article of faith. 64% of Americans believe in the health benefits of prayer, including 54% of Americans who are not born again Christians.


The American public is split right down the middle on the thorny issue of whether or not religious organizations should be exempt from taxation.

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September 27, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 871

Saturday, September 26, 2015

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

IRS Releases Summer 2015 SOI Bulletin

IRS Logo 2The IRS's Statistics of Income Division has released (IR-2015-105) the Summer 2015 SOI Bulletin (Vol. 35, No. 3), with these articles:

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

Chronicle Of Higher Education: The Law School Co-Deaning Trend

Following up on my previous posts (links below) on the growing practice of law school co-deans:  Chronicle of Higher Education, A Deanship Divided in 2:

Sometimes, it seems, just the right person to fill a top post is two people. The provost of the University of New Mexico concluded as much in August, when he promoted two law professors, Alfred D. Mathewson and Sergio Pareja, to be co-deans of its School of Law. ...

Rather than conduct another national search, the university chose to hire the next dean internally. The new co-deans are both specialists in business and tax law. ...  The two men plan to share external-relations and fund-raising duties during their three-year term. Mr. Pareja will focus more on faculty and curriculum development, while Mr. Mathewson will head the New Mexico Judicial Nominating Commission, a traditional responsibility of the law dean. The co-deans will split between them the customary supplemental administrative compensation of about $60,000 a year.

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 870

IRS Logo 2American Thinker, Lois Lerner's 'Partners':

On October 5, the same day the Supreme Court opens its term, across town at the Washington Marriott Georgetown a group of bureaucrats that has lost four times before that court will huddle in a three-day meeting open only one day to the public or the people and entities they regulate.

Unless you are a lawyer representing nonprofit organizations, it’s unlikely you’ve ever heard of NASCO, which is the National Association of State Charity Officials. These are state officials who work together and even collaborate with federal officials to regulate your favorite charities or nonprofit groups advocating for your constitutional rights.

A 2007 letter from NASCO’s then-president Hugh Jones to Lois Lerner describes NASCO as Lerner’s “partner in the regulation of charities.” Especially in retrospect, that’s some admission against interest, as lawyers might say. Lois Lerner, of course, is the now-former IRS official held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about how her Tax Exempt Division targeted and abused conservative nonprofit organizations, and illegally disclosed the names and addresses of donors to at least one. ...

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

It is a common unethical practice employed by many NASCO members to, like Lerner, make demands for actions and production of documents, but refusing to cite legal authority, which gives cover to their lawlessness or even incompetence. ...

The theme of NASCO’s meeting in Washington early next month is “A Renewed Focus on the State Regulator.” A renewed focus is indeed needed, but on their lawlessness, instransparency, unethical behavior, and Lois Lerner-like arrogance.

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

Friday, September 25, 2015

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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September 25, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

Yogi Berra's Tax Wisdom

YogiForbes:  Yogi Berra's Sayings Worked Their Way Into Tax Decisions, by Peter J. Reilly:

Yogi Berra besides being a great baseball player and manager is also known as something of a common man philosopher for his sayings sometimes called Yogi-isms not all of which he actually said. As is my habit when the prominent pass, I had to check whether he had been involved in tax litigation. I didn’t find anything and my Thomson Reuters Checkpoint is pretty comprehensive and my research skills are pretty good. After all, tax blogging is 90% good research; the other three-quarters is creativity.

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September 25, 2015 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Estate of Former Detroit Pistons Owner Sues Deloitt For $500 Million For Botching Tax Plan

PistonsFollowing up on my previous posts:

Bloomberg, Deloitte Sued for $500 Million by Estate of Ex-Pistons Owner:

A Deloitte unit allegedly promised a tax plan under which former Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson would “win if he lived, or win if he died.”

It didn’t work out that way. Four years after the 2009 death of the multibillionaire, his estate was hit with a $2.7 billion tax bill, according to a lawsuit filed in New York.

The estate sued Deloitte Tax LLP Thursday to recover $500 million in taxes, fees and penalties from the adviser.

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September 25, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Taxpayers Flee Democrat-Run States For Republican Ones

Americans for Tax Reform, Taxpayers Fleeing Democrat-Run States for Republican Ones:

In 2013, more than 200,000 people on net fled states with Democrat governors [led by New York, Illinois, California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts] for ones run by Republicans [led by Texas, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Arizona], according to an analysis of newly released IRS data by Americans for Tax Reform. 

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September 25, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (28)

The IRS Scandal, Day 869

IRS Logo 2The Hill:  The IRS's Abuse of Power, by Tom Schatz (President, Citizens Against Government Waste):

During the reign of King George III, Britain's American colonists felt the heavy burden of a monarch imposing his will to levy heavy taxes without representation, overregulate businesses and trample upon basic freedoms. In order to overcome these oppressive bonds, the 13 Colonies banded together to declare their independence from tyranny.

President Obama does not have the same level of power as King George, but he is using every tool at his disposal to emulate the king and restrict the freedom of Americans as they pursue their daily lives and conduct their business. In other words, when Obama famously said in January 2014 that he had a pen and a phone to get things done with or without Congress, he was not joking. His administration has taken unprecedented steps to issue regulations and rulings without going through normal administrative procedures, such as issuing "sub-regulatory guidance" and circumventing Congress whenever possible.

A prime example of this kind of abuse of power was the hiring of outside counsel by the Internal Revenue Service to conduct interviews and assist in an audit of Microsoft on May 19, 2014. In a May 13, 2015 press release regarding his letter to the IRS about this matter, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), questioned the legality of such an action because it "1) appears to violate federal law and the express will of the Congress; 2) removes taxpayer protections by allowing the performance of inherently governmental functions by private contractors; and 3) calls into question the IRS's use of its limited resources."

This extraordinary episode should be troubling for all taxpayers. On top of the waste of tax dollars, the hiring of outside litigators at Obama's IRS is the latest overreach by the administration and the same agency that spawned Lois Lerner, the former director of the Exempt Organizations unit.

While there is no excuse or justification for this action by the IRS and no one should be subject to such an misuse of the taxpayers' money, a large company can battle to maintain its rights under the law (albeit at the expense of conducting its ordinary business). It is bad enough when IRS auditors and bean counters come knocking at someone's door, but there is no way that a small business or individual taxpayer could withstand a grilling by high-powered and highly paid litigators. Congress was not around to stop King George, but it can and should stop the Obama administration's ongoing abuses of power.

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September 25, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

NY Times: Is The Bar Too Low To Get Into Law School And Practice Law?

NY Times Room for DebateNew York Times Room for Debate, Is the Bar Too Low to Get Into Law School?:

Bar exam scores have declined over the past few years, and last summer, graduates had some of the lowest scores in a decade. This years scores could be even worse. The National Conference of Bar Examiners, which creates and scores the multistate, multiple-choice portion of the exam, maintains that the quality of incoming law students has declined, while many law professors blame the bar exam itself.

Why are so many law students failing the bar exam?  

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September 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Bird & Zolt: Taxation And Inequality In Canada And The United States

Richard M. Bird (Toronto) & Eric M. Zolt (UCLA), Taxation and Inequality in Canada and the United States: Two Stories or One?, 52 Osgoode Hall L.J. 401 (2015):

Canada and the United States have both experienced a substantial increase in income inequality over the last several decades. In this article, we examine the complex interaction of income inequality with tax and transfer systems in Canada and the United States. We begin by comparing the data on taxation and expenditure to understand the similarities and differences between the two countries. We then consider how changes to tax and transfer policies have affected the levels of inequality in both countries. The article concludes by offering some policy recommendations that each country may consider to address the increasing levels of inequality.

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

MBA Applications Soar As Law School Applications Fall To 30-Year Lows

Bloomberg, Business Schools See Broadest Increase in Applications Since the Recession; Meanwhile, The Executive MBA May be Dying:

Traditional business school programs are experiencing the strongest level of interest from U.S. applicants since 2009, a new report shows. Fifty-nine percent of U.S. business schools said applications to full-time, two year MBA programs from Americans increased over last year, as reported in a survey of hundreds of programs conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council, the body that administers the main business school entrance exam.

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September 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

IRS Agent Busted for Extorting Money From Marijuana Dispensary Owner

High Times, IRS Agent Busted for Extorting Money From Marijuana Dispensary Owner:

An agent working in the Seattle branch of the Internal Revenue Service is now facing criminal charges after extorting money from the owner of a local cannabis dispensary in exchange for a lenient audit.

According to a report from the Seattle Times, Paul Hurley, 42, is on the road to federal prison for attempting to squeeze tens of thousands of dollars out of a businessman for help with a delinquent tax bill. Prosecutors say Hurley presented the dispensary owner with documents that indicated a tax debt of nearly $300,000 and then suggested the bill would have been in upwards of $1 million had he not worked some magic. 

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September 24, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Avi-Yonah: Vanguard Owes $35 Billion In Back Taxes

VanguardPhiladelphia Inquirer, Whistleblower's Expert Says Vanguard Owes Billions in Back Taxes:

A tax expert retained by former Vanguard Group tax lawyer David Danon in his whistle-blower complaints against the mutual fund giant has sent the IRS a report estimating the company's unpaid federal income tax liabilities at $34.6 billion from 2007 to 2014.

"If the IRS were to pursue this matter, it will prevail in court," wrote Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, law professor at the University of Michigan Law School, in his report.

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September 24, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

A Tax Angle To The Iran Deal?

Politico, A Tax Angle to the Iran Deal?:

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is demanding to know whether President Barack Obama, as part of his recent Iran deal, plans to waive tax penalties on Americans doing business there. In a letter to Obama, Ryan noted that U.S. companies and individuals doing business in countries designated as sponsors of terrorism can lose foreign tax credits and face immediate taxation on their earnings there. Ryan, who opposes the Iran deal, wants to know whether Obama plans to use his statutory authority to waive those penalties.

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September 24, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Former Case Western Dean Resigns From Faculty

MitchellCleveland Scene, Former CWRU Law School Dean Lawrence Mitchell Was Supposed to Return to CWRU Faculty This Year; Thankfully That Didn't Happen:

The only mention of it was buried in a article on the appointment of new official co-deans of Case Western Reserve University's law school, but it's worth teasing out on its own. [Update: It was also fully fleshed out by the tremendous CWRU paper, The Observer, on August 21 here.]

Lawrence Mitchell, the former CWRU law school dean who was the subject of a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit originated in late 2013 that CWRU ended up settling in the summer of 2014, took a sabbatical in New York following his leave from the position.

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 868

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Gregg Polsky Leaves North Carolina For Georgia

Polsky (2015)Georgia press release:

Georgia Law is pleased to announce that Gregg D. Polsky has agreed to join the law school's faculty in the fall of 2016. Polsky, currently the Willie Person Magnum Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law, has also served on the law faculties of the University of Minnesota and Florida State University, and visited at Duke University. Author of a casebook, Polsky has written articles appearing in the Duke Law Journal, the Iowa Law Review and the Virginia Law Review, among others.

A preeminent tax law scholar, he has served as Professor in Residence in the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, and he regularly serves as an expert witness on tax matters. His teaching expertise includes tax, private equity and an innovative course on business basics for lawyers. 

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September 23, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (2)

Fleischer: Taxing Carried Interest As Ordinary Income Through Executive Action

Victor Fleischer (San Diego), Two and Twenty Revisited: Taxing Carried Interest as Ordinary Income Through Executive Action Instead:

The Treasury Department should issue regulations treating the allocation and distribution of partnership profits in private equity funds — carried interest — as payments for services. My suggested “tax arbitrage” approach uses the presence of tax-exempt limited partners in the investment fund as a proxy for arrangements that inappropriately exploit the difference in tax rates among partners to reduce overall tax liability. The end result of treating carried interest as a payment for services achieves a result similar to the policy recommendation of Two and Twenty: Taxing Partnership Profits in Private Equity Funds, 83 NYU L. Rev. 1 (2008), but it would do so through executive action and without the need for new legislation.

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

Former SMU Law School Dean Must Admit Prostitution Charge To Get Plea Deal

JohnFollowing up on my previous post, Former SMU Law School Dean Arrested on Prostitution Charge:  CBS DFW, Former Dean Of SMU’s Law School Must Admit Prostitution Charge To Get Deal:

The attorney who led SMU’s law school for 15-years has been put on pre-trial diversion for a prostitution charge.

John Attanasio was arrested in Collin County in February.

A KRLD legal analyst says to qualify for pre-trial diversion Attanasio has to admit to the prostitution charge. But if he successfully completes the program, his record will be wiped clean.

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

NY Times: IRS Ruling Makes After-Tax 401(k) Contributions More Attractive

IRS Logo 2New York Times, I.R.S. Ruling Makes After-Tax Contributions More Attractive:

Making pretax contributions to your 401(k) retirement plan is a no-brainer. But recent changes in federal tax rules may make it more attractive for serious savers to increase after-tax contributions, as well.

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September 23, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Miami Seeks To Hire Entry Level Or Lateral Tax Prof

Miami LogoThe University of Miami School of Law is seeking to fill a tenured or tenure-track tax faculty position:

The University of Miami School of Law is interested in all persons of high academic achievement and promise, including those who hold Ph.D. degrees. We will consider applications from candidates at any level and with any area of specialization within tax.  

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September 23, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

For Third Time, ABA Committee Votes To Eliminate Ban On Academic Credit For Paid Externships

ABA Logo 2ABA Journal, ABA Committee for Third Time Proposes Eliminating Ban on Academic Credit for Paid Externships:

For the third time in less than two years, an ABA committee has proposed lifting the ban in the law school accreditation standards on students receiving academic credit for paid externships.

But the Standards Review Committee, which met Friday and Saturday in Atlanta, also agreed to forward such a proposal to the governing council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar in case the council decides to keep the ban. ...

At its meeting in Atlanta, the committee approved several proposed changes in that standard, including one that would define what a field placement course is and one that would require a written agreement spelling out the details of the placement between the student, the faculty member overseeing the placement and the site supervisor.

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September 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

WSJ: Curbs Don’t Stop Tax-Driven Mergers — Inversion Deals, Foreign Takeovers Continue Apace

WSJWall Street Journal, Curbs Don’t Stop Tax-Driven Mergers: ‘Inversion’ Deals, Foreign Takeovers Continue Apace:

When Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. last October abandoned plans to buy an Irish drug company and move its headquarters overseas, it was chalked up as a win for Washington over “inversion” deals that were structured to avoid U.S. taxes.

The victory was short-lived. In the year since the Treasury Department tightened its rules to reduce the tax benefits of such deals, six U.S. companies have struck inversions, compared with the nine that did so the year before.

Meanwhile, foreign takeovers of U.S. companies have soared, with similarly draining effects on U.S. coffers. Just six months after calling off its inversion, Salix itself was sold to a Canadian rival, which expects to shave more than $560 million off Salix’s tax bill over the next five years, new documents show.

The results highlight the challenge for Washington in holding onto corporate tax dollars amid a global mergers-and-acquisitions boom. U.S. businesses, which are subject to a 35% tax rate, are worth more in the hands of more lightly taxed foreign rivals. The savings let overseas buyers offer high prices for those assets, which ramps up pressure on American boards to sell.

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 867

IRS Logo 2The Hill, Hatch Wonders About IRS Discipline Over Political Scrutiny:

The Senate’s top tax writer asked Tuesday why the IRS has cleared most employees referred for potential improper political scrutiny since the agency’s Tea Party controversy erupted in 2013.

Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) noted that Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration had referred 47 employees to the IRS in recent years for potentially breaking the rules for reviewing tax-exempt applications.

The inspector general sent those referrals when it thought an employee’s actions weren’t criminal, leaving any potential punishment up to the IRS.

But of those 47 referrals, the IRS found that 20 employees had done nothing wrong, and another five resigned during their investigations.

The IRS found another eight employees could face disciplinary action for future conduct, after the agency found “no clear” evidence of misconduct. Eleven referrals are still pending, while the rest of the 47 are protected by privacy laws.

In a Tuesday letter, Hatch asked for more details about how the IRS investigates those referrals and about any role the National Treasury Employees Union plays in those inquiries.

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September 23, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Tax Lawyer Publishes New Issue

The Tax Lawyer (2013)The Tax Lawyer has published Vol. 68, No. 4 (Summer 2015) (State and Local Tax Edition):

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September 22, 2015 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Buchanan Reviews Schmalbeck's Ending The Sweetheart Deal Between Big-Time College Sports And The Tax System

Neil H. Buchanan (George Washington), Using the Tax Code to Help Universities Put Big-Time College Sports in (Some) Perspective (Jotwell), reviewing Richard Schmalbeck (Duke), Ending the Sweetheart Deal between Big-Time College Sports and the Tax System:

Richard Schmalbeck ... describes two tax provisions—universities not having to pay the Unrelated Business Income Tax” (UBIT) on their sports-related profits, and a provision allowing a partial deduction for barely disguised added charges for admission to games—that are “egregiously bad,” and he concludes that “these defects amount to an implicit tax subsidy of college sports that is neither healthy nor in any way justified.” Because of space limitations, I will focus here only on the first provision. Suffice it to say that Professor Schmalbeck’s arguments regarding the second provision are as strong as those for the first, which is to say very strong indeed. ...

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September 22, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Yale Law Students Prefer Efficiency Over Equality, Despite Self-Identifying As Democrats Rather Than Republicans By Over 10 To 1

Science 3Ray Fisman (Boston University), Pamela Jakiela (Maryland), Shachar Kariv (UC-Berkeley) & Daniel Markovits (Yale), The Distributional Preferences of an Elite, Science, Sept. 2015:

We compared the preferences of this highly elite group of students to those of a sample drawn from the American Life Panel (ALP), a broad cross-section of Americans, and to the preferences of an intermediate elite drawn from the student body at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB).

YLS subjects were substantially more efficiency-focused than were the ALP subjects drawn from the general population. Overall, 79.8% of YLS subjects were efficiency-focused, versus only 49.8% of the ALP sample. The YLS subjects displayed this distinctive preference for efficiency over equality in spite of overwhelmingly (by more than 10 to 1) self-identifying as Democrats rather than Republicans. In addition, YLS subjects were less likely to be classified as fair-minded and more likely to be classified as selfish than were the ALP subjects. Subjects from the intermediate elite fell between the YLS and ALP subjects with respect to efficiency-mindedness but were less likely to be fair-minded and more likely to be selfish than were the YLS subjects. We also demonstrate the predictive validity of our experimental measure of equality-efficiency tradeoffs by showing that it predicts the subsequent career choices of YLS subjects: More efficiency-focused behavior in the laboratory was associated with a greater likelihood of choosing private sector employment after graduation, whereas more equality-focused behavior was associated with a greater likelihood of choosing nonprofit sector employment.

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September 22, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Warren Pushes Treasury To Finalize Private Equity Fee Rule

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Bloomberg, Warren Pushes Treasury to Finalize Private Equity Fee Rule:

Senator Elizabeth Warren urged the Treasury Department to finalize its rule limiting the tax benefits enjoyed by private equity managers.

Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, sent a letter Monday to the Treasury calling for quick finalization and swift enforcement of the rule. Warren sent the letter along with Senate Democrats Al Franken of Minnesota, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

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

NY Times: Kickstarter Reincorporates As Public Benefit Corporation, Eschews 'Loopholes And Other Esoteric But Legal Tax Strategies To Reduce Its Tax Burden'

Kickstarter LogoNew York Times, Kickstarter Focuses Its Mission on Altruism Over Profit:

Many technology start-ups aim to become “unicorns,” the companies that get valued at $1 billion or more on their way to probable vast riches. Yancey Strickler and Perry Chen have no interest in that.

As co-founders of Kickstarter, the popular online crowdfunding website that lets people raise money to help fund all manner of projects, including cooking gadgets and movies, Mr. Strickler and Mr. Chen could have tried to take their company public or sell it, earning millions of dollars for themselves and other shareholders.

Instead, they announced on Sunday that Kickstarter was reincorporating as a “public benefit corporation,” a legal change they said would ensure that money — or the promise of it — would not corrupt their company’s mission of enabling creative projects to be funded.

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September 22, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Most (Montana) And Least (Washington) Fair State & Local Tax Systems

Wallet HubWalletHub, 2015’s Most & Least Fair State Tax Systems:

With summer ending, the 2016 elections are starting to heat up. And, as usual, tax policy is a hot-button issue, as political candidates from both sides of the aisle claim their plan is more “fair.” But what does a fair tax system look like? Which states actually have the fairest tax systems?

WalletHub analyzed and ranked the 50 states based on the fairness of their state and local tax systems — including income taxes, sales and excise taxes, and property taxes. To rank the states, Wallethub used the results of a nationally representative online survey of 1,050 individuals to assess what Americans think a fair state and local tax system looks like. Our analysts then compared public perception to data on the real structure of tax systems in all 50 states.

We believe this is the first ever ranking of state and local tax fairness that matches representative data on what Americans consider “fair” with real data on the structure of state and local tax systems.

Source: WalletHub

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September 22, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Duke Professor Denied Job At UNC Brings Antitrust Lawsuit Alleging Non-Poaching Agreement Stifled Lateral Faculty Moves

Duke UNCFollowing up on my previous post, North Carolina Retains 64% Of Faculty Who Receive Lateral Offers; Lawsuit Challenges Alleged Agreement With Duke To Forswear Lateral Hiring Of Each Other's Faculty:  Inside Higher Ed, Good Neighbors or Conspirators?:

Colleges and universities lure top faculty members away from competitor institutions all the time, and the practice is (generally speaking) entirely legal. But while some relish it, others consider faculty poaching, or actively recruiting faculty members from competitors, bad form and try to avoid doing it regularly -- especially to institutions in the same geographic area.

A new antitrust lawsuit alleges much more than a neighborly understanding between Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, however. The suit, brought against Duke by a medical faculty member there, rather alleges a binding no-hire agreement between the two Research Triangle institutions prevented her from getting a job at Carolina that otherwise would have been hers. The faculty member alleges there are others like her, and she’s proposed a class action.

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September 22, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 866

IRS Logo 2USA Today op-ed:  Why Congress Should Impeach Gina McCarthy, John Koskinen, and Other Obama Administration Obstructers-of-Justice, by Glenn Reynolds (Tennessee):

Is impeachment the only solution for lack of executive accountability? ...

Congress is considering impeaching [EPA Administrator] Gina McCarthy, ... Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) has introduced a resolution of impeachment against her because he says she lied during testimony about the EPA’s new clean water rules. ... McCarthy is accused of perjuring herself three times, in discussing the scientific and engineering basis for those rules. So, you might wonder, why not just prosecute her for perjury?

The problem is that criminal prosecutions are brought by the executive branch, and there’s not much chance that Obama administration Attorney General Loretta Lynch will bring a perjury prosecution against a fellow member of the administration. And there’s nothing Congress can do to change that. ...

The framers of the Constitution knew that, of course, which is why they gave Congress another power, that of impeachment. ...

Congress has had a lot of trouble with this administration. The IRS stonewalled on the emails implicating Lois Lerner in political targeting of Tea Party groups, the State Department (and Hillary Clinton personally) have stonewalled and foot-dragged on releasing Hillary’s emails, and other officials, such as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have provided “clearly erroneous” statements to Congress and suffered no penalty.

Traditionally, presidents have been willing to sacrifice underlings caught in this sort of behavior, but the Obama administration hasn’t been so quick to force them out. And like any behavior, lying to Congress and stonewalling congressional oversight becomes more common when it becomes clear that there will be no significant price to be paid.

Impeaching lower level officials may be a solution. Not only is the threat of removal from office a significant one, but most cabinet officials — and even many lower-level appointees — have bigger ambitions. Rendering them ineligible for further federal office is a genuine threat.

That’s why impeaching McCarthy — and, as some, including Ed Morrissey, have already suggested, IRS chief John Koskinen, whose stonewalling over the IRS political-targeting scandal has been egregious, or Clapper — might encourage better behavior in the future. The Republican House majority leader says it won't happen, but as Congressional Republicans seek a way to hold the Obama administration accountable, the pressure to do something may change that political calculus.

We live in a world where these officials pay no price, and where no one lost their job over the EPA’s disastrous Colorado mine spill, and where the Veterans Administration is in many cases firing whistleblowers before accountable officials for botched veteran care.

Is impeachment the answer to lack of accountability in the executive branch? If it isn’t, what is?

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September 22, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Galle Presents Regulating Internalities Today At Loyola-L.A.

Galle (2016)Brian Galle (Georgetown) presents Regulating Internalities at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

An extensive existing literature examines the optimal design of tools for correcting externalities. This Article is among the first to extend that literature to the field of internalities, or harms that individuals do to themselves. I show that several pieces of conventional wisdom in the externality literature likely do not hold in the internality context. For example, moral hazard concerns lead prior commentators to overwhelmingly favor sticks over carrots. Yet moral hazard is likely not a concern for internalities, implying that other factors that have traditionally gotten little attention, such as income effects, may be important. I also show that internality regulation can in some contexts be a highly efficient source of revenue—again unlike the externality context, there may be a “double dividend” for internality-correcting taxes. And, finally, I address some standard concerns with the project of regulating internalities generally.

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September 21, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Schmalbeck Presents Ending The Sweetheart Deal Between Big-Time College Sports And The Tax System Today At BC

SchmalbeckRichard Schmalbeck (Duke) presents Ending the Sweetheart Deal between Big-Time College Sports and the Tax System at Boston College today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by James Repetti and Diane Ring:

This paper was prepared for a recent conference of the National Center for Philanthropy and Law, of the NYU Law School. The overall topic was “Tax Issues Affecting Colleges and Universities,” and I was asked to address specifically those issues relating to athletics. This paper considers two specific issues that have in common that they involve college ”revenue” sports, and are plagued by egregiously bad tax rules.

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September 21, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Would The IRS Revoke The Catholic Church's Tax Exempt Status If Pope Francis Endorses Bernie Sanders?

Pope BernieForbes:  Presidential Race — Let's Talk Religion, Politics And The IRS, by Peter J. Reilly:

The IRS continues to make it clear that political campaign intervention by 501(c)(3) organizations including churches is absolutely prohibited. ... Of course when it comes to such a prohibition, the devil is in the details.  ”Certain activities may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances”.  As we head into a new election season, it is worth looking at some of those devilish details.

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September 21, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

Condlin: Assessing Experiential Learning, Jobs And All

Robert Condlin (Maryland), Assessing Experiential Learning, Jobs and All: A Response to the Three Professors, 2015 Wis. L. Rev. Online ___ :

Does clinical practice experience improve a law student’s chances of getting a legal job? If not, would it, if employers were given better information about that experience? And if not, are there other reasons to justify a law school’s decision to fund a clinical program? The answer to the first two questions is almost certainly no. For many reasons — the uneven and situation-driven nature of clinical practice experience, the Delphic quality of practice evaluations, the availability of more effective in-house training options, and the like — most private law firms prefer to trust conventional academic credentials more than practice experience in deciding whom to hire.

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September 21, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Loyola-L.A. Seeks To Hire A Two-Year Summer Tax Visitor

Loyola-L.A. Logo (2013)Loyola-L.A. seeks to hire a Visiting Professor of Tax Law to teach its six-unit Business Tax Intensive course during the summers of 2016 and 2017:

The course covers basic and advanced Corporate Taxation and Partnership Taxation and meets Monday through Thursday for eight weeks from early June through the end of July. It is part of a twelve unit Intensive Summer Tax Session ("summer tax bootcamp”), offered as part of Loyola's unique Joint JD/Tax LLM Program.  By the end of bootcamp, students have most of the skills they need to operate at a first- or second-year big firm tax associate level; employers come to Loyola specially to recruit bootcamp graduates. Joint Program students, including visiting students from JD programs at other law schools, attend the bootcamp after their first or second JD year, take an additional 12 units of advanced tax courses during the regular academic year, and then graduate in three years with both a JD and a Tax LLM.

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September 21, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Department Of Education's New Loan Repayment Program Punishes Law School Grads

The American Lawyer:  A Loan Repayment Plan That Punishes Law Grads, by Matt Leichter:

Despite plummeting law school applications and a glut of highly indebted, underemployed law school graduates, Washington appears to believe that its student loan reforms treat law grads too gently.

After promoting the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) repayment plan to ease debt burdens, the Department of Education is pulling back. In July 2015, the department posted the latest addition to its list of income-sensitive repayment plans: Revised Pay-As-You-Earn (REPAYE). As the new plan’s name implies, the government is dissatisfied with PAYE, which was itself intended to improve upon the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) option. The department hopes to make REPAYE available by Dec. 31, 2015.

REPAYE differs notably from its predecessor by demanding more from graduate and professional students, who tend to borrow more than undergrads. Instead of cracking down on tuition or curtailing its lending programs, the department proposes to extract more from the students. Unfortunately, most law school debtors do not have the large incomes necessary to fully repay their loans. And because law students make up a large proportion of the borrowers using federal loans to pay for graduate education, they will likely bear the brunt of REPAYE's graduate-student-unfriendly changes.

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September 21, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

The IRS Scandal, Day 865

IRS Logo 2Providence Journal op-ed, Selective Interest in Enforcing the Law, by Rick Manning (President, Americans for Limited Government):

Who said this? “I would just say on principle that the success of our democracy depends on rule of law. And there is no public official that is above the law, certainly not the president of the United States. But neither is the Rowan County clerk. That’s a principle that is enshrined in our Constitution and in our democracy and it's one obviously the courts are seeking to uphold. ”

That was White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest speaking on Sept. 3 about the arrest of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis of Kentucky for refusing to process gay-marriage licenses.

The rule of law is fundamental to our nation’s existence, and it has been virtually destroyed over the past seven years both by the Obama administration and federal courts with acquiescence from the congressional leadership.

The president’s Internal Revenue Service engaged in political targeting of conservative groups and auditing conservative donors in one of the most dangerous abuses of executive branch power in our nation’s history, and the perpetrator faces no federal charges and continues to draw payments from the federal government. Lois Lerner has been, and continues to be, above the law.

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September 21, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)