TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Virginia Is First U.S. Team To Win International Tax Moot Court

UVAUVA Becomes First U.S. Team To Take All at International Tax Law Moot Court:

University of Virginia School of Law students won the International and European Tax Moot Court in Belgium last week, becoming the first U.S team to earn that honor in the competition’s almost 15-year history.

Christina McLeod, Phil Ogea, David Rubin and Julia Wynn comprised the winning squad, with student Brandon Dubov serving as team coach and Professor Ruth Mason acting as faculty adviser.

It was only the second year that UVA Law has fielded a team.

“Our students left for Brussels resolved to win, and that’s exactly what they did,” Mason said. “In two short years our students have made Virginia a force to be reckoned with in this competition.”

This year, UVA Law students pleaded against teams from India, Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany before meeting students from National University of Kyiv-Mohyla, Ukraine, in the final round.

The students participated in the moot as part of Mason’s International Tax Practicum class. Fellow tax faculty members Michael DoranAndrew Hayashi and Ethan Yale also helped prepare the students through mooting.

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April 7, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Value-Added Ranking Of Law Schools

U.S. News 2019CJ Ryan (American Bar Foundation), A Value-Added Ranking of Law Schools:

Before and since the first publication of the U.S. News & World Report (hereinafter “U.S. News”) rankings of law schools, legal education has been characterized by competition. As the first mover in the rankings of law schools, the U.S. News’ rankings have changed the landscape of legal education. Not only do law students to measure the worth of law schools based on these rankings, but law schools are reactive to the categories favored by these rankings’ methodology in order to bolster their position relative to their peers. This fixation on one ranking may foment the progress of legal education toward providing quantifiable value to current and prospective students.

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April 7, 2018 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, April 6, 2018

Satterthwaite Presents Entrepreneurs' Legal Status Choices and the C Corporation Penalty Today At Florida

SatterthwaiteEmily Satterthwaite (Toronto) presents Entrepreneurs' Legal Status Choices and the C Corporation Penalty at Florida today as part of its Graduate Tax Speaker Series:

Foundational to the American Dream is the ability to easily and rapidly start a new business. Over the past quarter century, the introduction of the limited liability company (LLC) has dramatically shifted the choice-of-legal-status calculus, and in its wake a consensus against the use of traditional C corporations by non-venture-backed start-ups has emerged.  The C corporation, scholars argue, has fatal drawbacks: tax disadvantages as well as governance inflexibility.  Due to historically limited sources of data, there has been little empirical research on choice-of-entity generally and none that explores the anti-C corporation thesis in particular.  Do C corporations under-perform as compared to similarly-situated businesses with alternative legal statuses?  This paper exploits a large panel dataset that contains legal status, owner, business, financing, and other firm-specific information collected from an eight-year panel survey of nearly five thousand enterprises that were formed in 2004.  The paper presents four main results. 

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April 6, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Eyal-Cohen Reviews Satterthwaite's Smallness And The Value-Added Tax

This week, Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Alabama) reviews a new article by Emily Ann Satterthwaite (Toronto), On the Threshold: Smallness and the Value-Added Tax, 9 Colum. J. Tax L. ___ (2018) (also reviewed by Erin Scharff (Arizona State) here):

Mirit-Cohen (2018)In her article, Satterthwaite puts a powerful spotlight on the role of fairness in value-added taxation (“VAT”), which has gained much global traction and become one of the most dominant revenue instruments across the world. The VAT has been adopted by over 150 countries that comprise about 75% of the world’s population, and accounts for more than 20% of worldwide tax revenue raised. Satterthwaite utilizes this increasing global interest in the VAT as well as the growing appreciation of entrepreneurship and small businesses to address optimal VAT base and design issues. 

This Article examines one of the most important features of the VAT to small business and entrepreneurs—the exemption for businesses that meet the definition of a “small supplier.” Such exemptions relieve firms under a certain size (usually annual revenues) from the need to to register for and charge VAT at the point of sale. But what is the optimal VAT registration threshold? Satterthwaite begins to answer this question by exploring the economic literature that supports placing a higher floor and exempting a larger number of firms for efficiency reasons.

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April 6, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

NY Times: The Contentious GRE v. LSAT Debate

GRELSAT2New York Times, Law Schools Debate a Contentious Testing Alternative:

[A]n upheaval of sorts [is] going on at most law schools around the country, which have faced plummeting enrollment for several years. Although they are beginning to recover, the fallow period led them to explore ways to find new pools of potential students.

One of the solutions, many decided, was to make a change in admission requirements. They would no longer rely solely on the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, which has been considered the surest predictor of how a student will fare in coursework. As an alternative, they would consider performance on the Graduate Record Exam. Accepting it could allow many more students to get into law school, proponents of the change said.

One test versus another might seem like a less than radical reason for debate.

But some defenders of the traditional test say the change amounts to a dangerous lowering of standards and could allow too many students to enroll in law school who would be unable to pass the lawyer licensing exam.

Many deans, however, want to rid themselves of some constraints on their admissions policies. They seek more flexibility to admit candidates they think are promising but who do not necessarily fit a conventional profile.

A showdown of sorts is set for later this month when the American Bar Association’s accrediting body plans to hold a public hearing where both sides can air their views. ...

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April 6, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Corporate Philanthropy As A Tool For Political Influence

Marianne Bertrand (Chicago), Matilde Bombardini (British Columbia), Raymond J. Fisman (Boston University) & Francesco Trebbi (British Columbia), Tax-Exempt Lobbying: Corporate Philanthropy as a Tool for Political Influence:

We explore the role of charitable giving as a means of political influence, a channel that has been heretofore unexplored in the political economy literature. For philanthropic foundations associated with Fortune 500 and S&P500 corporations, we show that grants given to charitable organizations located in a congressional district increase when its representative obtains seats on committees that are of policy relevance to the firm associated with the foundation. This pattern parallels that of publicly disclosed Political Action Committee (PAC) spending. As further evidence on firms’ political motivations for charitable giving, we show that a member of Congress’s departure leads to a short-term decline in charitable giving to his district, and we again observe similar patterns in PAC spending. Charities directly linked to politicians through personal financial disclosure forms filed in accordance to Ethics in Government Act requirements exhibit similar patterns of political dependence. Our analysis suggests that firms deploy their charitable foundations as a form of tax-exempt influence seeking. Based on a straightforward model of political influence, our estimates imply that 7.1 percent of total U.S. corporate charitable giving is politically motivated, an amount that is economically significant: it is 280 percent larger than annual PAC contributions and about 40 percent of total federal lobbying expenditures. Given the lack of formal electoral or regulatory disclosure requirements, charitable giving may be a form of political influence that goes mostly undetected by voters and shareholders, and which is directly subsidized by taxpayers.

New York Times, Charitable Giving by Corporations Is Also About Getting, a New Study Finds:

Just months before the midterm congressional elections, a group of economists have published an analysis of how corporate America is spreading its philanthropic wealth.

Sifting through the donations to charity from 1998 to 2015 by foundations set up by the largest companies in the United States — those in the Fortune 500 or the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index — [the professors] detected a pattern of contributions to 1,087 charities linked to 451 members of Congress.

Turns out that the spending is a little more self-serving than companies would have us believe. Some of the charitable giving looks a lot like corporate lobbying. Because companies get a break for such giving, it amounts to political spending at taxpayers’ expense. “Firms deploy their charitable foundations as a form of tax-exempt influence seeking,” the researchers write.

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April 6, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pace Law Dean David Yassky Steps Down Amid Faculty Discontent

Pace Logo (2018)New York Law Journal, Pace Law Dean David Yassky Steps Down Amid Faculty Discontent:

David Yassky, dean of Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law, is relinquishing the position at the end of the semester after clashing repeatedly with the faculty.

Horace Anderson Jr., associate dean for academic affairs and a professor of law at the school, will take over as interim dean while the law school seeks to fill the vacancy.

In an exclusive interview with the New York Law Journal, Yassky said he has been discussing the transition back to teaching with university president Marvin Krislov for the past several months. But he evaded questions on whether the move was voluntary. He did say that a new dean is good for the law school “because for the next phase it would be good to have someone who doesn’t have all the baggage.”

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April 6, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

UNC Female Professors' Concentration On Service Could Prove Detrimental To Their Salaries

The Daily Tar Heel, Female Professors' Concentration on Service Could Prove Detrimental to Their Salaries:

Female professors at UNC on average made $0.85 per dollar paid to their male counterparts in 2016, according to provisionary data archived by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The highest echelon of academic rank is the position of full professor. At UNC, the average salary for male full professors was $158,715 in 2016, the most recent year for which full data is available. Meanwhile, the average salary for female full professors, who are outnumbered over 2:1 by male full professors, was $138,429. ...


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April 6, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Zolt Presents Tax Treaties And Developing Countries Post-BEPS Today At Duke

Zolt (2014)Eric M. Zolt (UCLA) presents Tax Treaties and Developing Countries: A Better Deal Post-BEPS? at Duke today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

Developing countries face tough choices about whether to enter into bilateral tax treaties with developed countries. Several benefits flow from entering into tax treaties. These include increased foreign direct and portfolio investments that may result if tax treaties reduce double taxation, create greater tax certainty for investors, and provide for a dispute resolution mechanism for tax controversies. But there are real costs for developing countries in entering into tax treaties with developed countries. Treaty provisions invariably result in developing countries yielding taxing rights with respect to economic activity taking place in their country.

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April 5, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Burman Presents The Rising Tide Wage Credit Today At Indiana

Burman (2016)Len Burman (Syracuse & Tax Policy Center) presents The Rising Tide Wage Credit at Indiana today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Leandra Lederman:

The main factor depressing wages for low- and middle-skilled workers is technology. While technology once made workers more productive and boosted wages and employment, technology increasingly substitutes for workers. It is one reason manufacturing employment in the U.S. has plummeted even as production of manufactured goods has soared.

The failure of the market to broadly share the gains from economic growth calls for an intervention. This paper proposes something new ... : a wage tax credit of 100 percent of the first $10,000 of earnings financed by a broad-based dedicated value-added tax (VAT) of about 8 percent. The wage credit would grow over time with VAT revenues, so low- and middle-income workers would share in the gains from economic growth. I call the new wage supplement the Rising Tide Wage Credit (RTWC), evoking John F. Kennedy’s assertion that “A rising tide lifts all boats.” The RTWC would restore the connection between economic growth and the rewards to work. It would be a new kind of social insurance program—designed to ensure that workers at all income levels benefit from economic growth rather than just the highest earners, thus reversing the decades-long trend of wage stagnation. 

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April 5, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Blair-Stanek: Crises And Tax

Andrew Blair-Stanek (Maryland), Crises and Tax, 67 Duke L.J. 1155 (2017):

How can law best mitigate harm from crises like storms, epidemics, and financial meltdowns? This Article uses the law-and-economics framework of property rules and liability rules to analyze crisis responses across multiple areas of law, focusing particularly on the Internal Revenue Service’s numerous actions to battle the 2008-09 financial crisis.

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April 5, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prof Wins Another Round In Lawsuits Claiming Texas Tech Retaliated Against Him For His Opposition To Tenure

WWFollowing up on my previous post, Chaired Professor Wages Court Battle Against Tenure:  Inside Higher Ed, Texas Tech Professor Who Says University Punished Him For Opposing Tenure Can Take Case To Trial:

In another legal win for the Texas Tech University professor who hates tenure, a Texas appeals court green-lit his state-level suit against the institution this week for trial. The decision, written by Justice James T. Campbell, reverses a lower court’s dismissal of James Wetherbe’s retaliation case against Texas Tech. “Because we find Wetherbe alleged his challenged speech on tenure touched on a matter of public concern and because we ascribe no merit to appellees’ responsive arguments, we sustain Wetherbe’s issue,” the decision says.

Wetherbe, Richard Schulze Distinguished Professor of Business, has long been a critic of the tenure system, especially in business schools, on the grounds that it can limit innovation. He’s shared his opinions on campus and off, including in high-profile op-eds.

Saying that he lost out on professional opportunities because of his public comments and op-eds against tenure, Wetherbe sued Texas Tech for retaliation in a federal court in 2012. That suit was dismissed in 2014 on the grounds that Wetherbe's comments against tenure through 2012 weren't substantive enough to back up the retaliation claims. But a second suit alleging continued retaliation was revived last year by a federal appeals court, based on a decision similar in its logic to Campbell’s.

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April 5, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Students Rate Male Professors More Highly Than Female Professors, Even When They Teach Identical Courses

Inside Higher Ed, Study Says Students Rate Men More Highly Than Women Even When They Are Teaching Identical Courses:

A new study in PS: Political Science [Gender Bias in Student Evaluations] combines elements of prior research on gender bias in student evaluations of teaching, or SETs, and arrives at a serious conclusion: institutions using these evaluations in tenure, compensation and other personnel decisions may be engaging in gender discrimination.

“Our analysis of comments in both formal student evaluations and informal online ratings indicates that students do evaluate their professors differently based on whether they are women or men,” the study says. “Students tend to comment on a woman’s appearance and personality far more often than a man’s. Women are referred to as ‘teacher’ [as opposed to professor] more often than men, which indicates that students generally may have less professional respect for their female professors.”

Table 1

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April 5, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (9)

Tax Law Quirk Could Help Apple And Microsoft Lower Their Bills

Bloomberg, Tax Law Quirk Could Help Apple and Microsoft Lower Their Bills:

The Internal Revenue Service is providing some relief for companies facing looming tax bills after they stockpiled trillions of dollars offshore free of U.S. income tax.

A timing quirk in the tax overhaul seemed to give companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Cisco — all of which began their fiscal years before Jan. 1 — the chance to reduce the foreign cash they’ll accumulate this year and lower their taxes. A press release issued by the IRS on Monday indicates that “if done in the ordinary course of business,” the move won’t be considered as tax avoidance, according to Stephen Shay, a tax and business law professor at Harvard Law School.

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April 5, 2018 in IRS News, Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Economist: Why Are Law Schools Accepting The GRE?

GREThe Economist, Why Are Law Schools Accepting the GRE?:

[17] law schools [ArizonaBrooklyn, BYU, Cardozo, Columbia, Florida State, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Hawaii, John Marshall, Northwestern, Pace, St. John's, Texas A&M, Wake Forest, and Washington University] have announced that they will allow applicants to submit the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT. The number continues to climb.

Part of the appeal of the GRE is its accessibility. The GRE is offered almost every day of the year at more than 1,000 testing centers across the country. The test is computer-delivered, and students can view their preliminary scores immediately upon completion. By contrast, the paper-based LSAT is offered just four times per year; scores take three to four weeks to arrive.

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April 5, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Buchanan: What Will Republicans Do When Their Tax Cuts Fail?

NewsweekNewsweek:  What Will Republicans Do When Their Tax Cuts Fail?, by Neil H. Buchanan (George Washington):

The Republicans passed their regressive tax bill last year in the face of widespread public opposition, with defections by House members from suburban districts and a rushed legislative process that made a mockery of the idea of deliberative government.  Even so, they managed to deliver all of their votes in the Senate, including the self-styled deficit hawks who made a big show of concern before caving to party orthodoxy.

And despite their most fervent wishes and a brief blip in the polls, the new tax law is still not popular.  As I described in companion columns on Verdict and Dorf on Law last week, the public has very good reasons for hating a law that was very clearly designed to worsen already historic levels of inequality.  To their credit, people are not being bought off with a few extra dollars in take-home pay.

In spite of this, will Republicans convince themselves to try to pass another round of tax cuts? And if they do, how will they justify further cuts when the current round of cuts fails?

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April 5, 2018 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Taite Presents Making Tax Policy Great Again: America You’ve Been Trumped Today At Boston College

TaitePhyllis Taite (Florida A&M) presents Making Tax Policy Great Again: America You’ve Been Trumped at Boston College today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Jim Repetti, Shu-Yi Oei, and Diane Ring:

In December 2017, President Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) claiming it as the largest tax cuts in history. While the proponents of the TCJA claim this legislation provides tax breaks that benefit everyone, there are economic consequences that disproportionately benefit the wealthy to the detriment of the masses. Tax policy should benefit the majority of Americans, not just the elite. If we truly want to make tax policy great again, then we should go back to the very beginning when the tax base was primarily the responsibility of the wealthiest Americans.

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April 4, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

13th Annual International Conference On Tax Administration: Tax System Integrity In A Digital Age

ATax (2015)The 13th Annual International Conference on Tax Administration kicks off today on Tax System Integrity in a Digital Age at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. 

Nina Olson (National Taxpayer Advocate) delivers the keynote address on Some Observations on Tax Administration and the Digital Revolution.

Kristin Hickman (Minnesota) presents Restoring the Lost Anti-Injunction Act, 103 Va. L. Rev. 1683 (2017):

Should Treasury regulations and IRS guidance documents be eligible for pre-enforcement judicial review? The D.C. Circuit’s 2015 decision in Florida Bankers Association v. Treasury puts its interpretation of the Anti-Injunction Act at odds with both general administrative law norms in favor of pre-enforcement review of final agency action and also the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the nearly identical Tax Injunction Act. A 2017 federal district court decision in Chamber of Commerce v. Internal Revenue Service, appealable to the Fifth Circuit, interprets the Anti-Injunction Act differently and could lead to a circuit split regarding pre-enforcement judicial review of Treasury regulations and IRS guidance documents.

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April 4, 2018 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: Crack And Pack — How Companies Are Mastering The New Tax Code

WSJWall Street Journal, Crack and Pack: How Companies Are Mastering the New Tax Code:

Dallas attorney Garry Davis plans to break up his immigration-law practice. One firm will have all the lawyers. The other will record the profits.

It’s just one of many strategies businesses are exploring as they pore over the biggest rewrite of U.S. tax rules in decades. Mr. Davis’s approach, which some have dubbed “crack and pack,” seeks to get around a provision denying high-earning lawyers, doctors and other professionals a tax break available to plumbing contractors, restaurateurs and architects.

By separating the lawyers from other parts of the business, he hopes to lower the business’s overall tax bill while changing little in his day-to-day operations.

Long before most clarifying regulations have been issued, the new law has led to a burst of activity in tax circles as lawyers, accountants and businesses look for ways around some of the proposals meant to pinch them—and for ways to extend the reach of new tax breaks. For owners of closely held businesses, that can mean splitting operations apart, reclassifying them and re-categorizing their activities, all in an effort to get as much of their income taxed at the new low rates as possible.

The legislation contains more uncertainties than usual for a tax overhaul because of the speed of its drafting, which left little opportunity for the public and congressional scrutiny that often identifies confusion in bills. The recent omnibus spending bill shut down one loophole, involving farm products sold to cooperatives, while lawmakers and regulators say they are collecting feedback as they consider future changes.

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April 4, 2018 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: White House Turf Battle Threatens To Delay Tax Law Rollout

New York Times, White House Turf Battle Threatens to Delay Tax Law Rollout:

A power struggle between two of President Trump’s top cabinet members threatens to delay implementation of the new tax law and could give lobbyists and political hands in the White House greater ability to shape critical decisions about which types of businesses benefit from the law.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget, headed by Mick Mulvaney, and the Treasury Department, run by Steven Mnuchin, are at odds over whether to end Treasury’s traditional independence in writing tax regulations and to give the budget office more oversight of those rules. If an agreement is not reached soon, the president may have to weigh in and make the decision himself.

The debate is more than just a West Wing turf war. How it plays out could affect several big decisions that will define the breadth and scope of the new tax law, including whether small businesses like veterinary clinics and dentists may claim a new 20 percent tax deduction, and to what degree multinational corporations such as Microsoft and Eli Lilly will be hit with a new minimum tax on the profits they earn overseas.

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April 4, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pepperdine And U.S. News: A Problem Of Unregulated Monopoly?

U.S. News 2019Following up on my previous posts:

Above the Law:  Pepperdine And U.S. News: A Problem Of Unregulated Monopoly?, by LawProfBlawg (anonymous prof at Top 100 school) & TempDean (anonymous prof and current or former interim dean at Top 100 school):

U.S. News ought to have a leniency program to report innocent violations.

Many law schools have been accused of what one of my symposium speakers has called “jukin’ the stats.”  That is, some schools in the past have taken to lying about their data in order to manipulate their position in the all-important law school rankings game.  That is not cool.

However, that isn’t what happened at Pepperdine.  Pepperdine made an innocent mistake, took immediate steps to correct it, and then faced a draconian penalty for its honestly.  That is the topic of today’s post: What should U.S. News have done? ...

There are two issues at stake.  Unless we want to grant U.S. News investigative powers akin to the FBI or B613 (see Scandal), there must be some incentives for law schools to correct their honest mistakes and self-report rather than deliberately cheat, bury the bodies, and hope no disgruntled ex-employees drop a dime on them to U.S. News and the ABA.  Second, there needs to be some way to distinguish the honest mistake from a deliberate obstruction of ranking justice. ...

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April 4, 2018 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Tax Lawyer Publishes New Issue

Susan Dynarski (Michigan Econ Prof) Accuses Kevin Hassett (Chair, White House Council Of Economic Advisers) Of Plagiarizing Her Work In WSJ Op-Ed

Inside Higher Ed, Prominent Scholar Accuses Trump Economist Of Plagiarism:

In a series of tweets Wednesday night, Susan Dynarski, an economist and professor at the University of Michigan, accused Kevin Hassett, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, of in a 2007 column presenting her proposal to streamline the federal student aid system as his own without citing her or her graduate student co-author.

Dynarsky Tweet

A council official contested Dynarski's account. ...

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April 4, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Robinson: The Folly Of Conflating The Power To Fine With The Power To Tax

Mildred Robinson (Virginia), The Folly of Conflating the Power to Fine with the Power to Tax, 62 Vill. L. Rev. 925 (2017):

As citizens, we expect the police “to protect and to serve.” So how does a police force become revenue collector instead of protector? On the local level, we “purchase” through taxes police and fire protection as well as a myriad of other services. This article, an expansion of remarks made during the October 2016 Shachoy Symposium — Exploring Police Accountability in America — at the Villanova University School of Law, examines how reliance on traffic fines for general budgetary purposes became a matter of general practice in Ferguson and many other towns and cities. It ultimately serves as a reminder that there are very sound economic and civic reasons to rely upon “taxes [as] the price we pay for a civilized society?”

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April 4, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Mehrotra Presents T.S. Adams And The Beginning Of The Value-Added Tax Today At NYU

Mehrotra (2017)Ajay Mehrotra (American Bar Foundation & Northwestern) presents “Economic Expertise, Democratic Constraints, and the Historical Irony of U.S. Tax Policy: Thomas S. Adams and the Beginnings of the Value-Added Tax at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Lily Batchelder and Daniel Shaviro:

I have recently embarked upon a new long-term research project (The VAT Laggard: A Comparative History of U.S. Resistance to the Value-added Tax), which explores why the United States remains the only advanced, industrialized nation that continues to resist the global spread of the value-added tax (VAT). The first part of this comparative-history project examines the 1920s intellectual beginnings of the VAT in the United States.

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April 3, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NYU Tax Law Review Publishes New Issue

NYU Law (2016)The Tax Law Review has published a new issue (Vol. 70, No. 4 (Summer 2017)):

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April 3, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stanford Study: Race And Gender Bias In Online Courses

Stanford 2Inside Higher Education, Race and Gender Bias in Online Courses:

Many proponents of online education have speculated that the digital learning environment might be a meritocracy, where students are judged not on their race or gender, but on the comments they post.

A study [Bias in Online Classes: Evidence from a Field Experiment] being released today by the Center for Education Policy Analysis at Stanford University, however, finds that bias appears to be strong in online course discussions.

The study found that instructors are 94 percent more likely to respond to discussion forum posts by white male students than by other students. The authors write that they believe their work is the first to demonstrate with a large pool that the sort of bias that concerns many educators in face-to-face instruction is also present in online education.

Figure 1

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April 3, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Registration Is Open For NTA's 48th Annual Spring Symposium

National Tax Association (2016)Registration is now open for the National Tax Association's 48th Annual Spring Symposium on May 17-18, 2018 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.:

The symposium will examine the overhaul of the corporate and individual income tax systems undertaken by Congress at the end of 2017. Sessions will focus on the consequences of changes to the taxation of multinational enterprises, pass-through businesses, and individual taxpayers. Individual sessions will also address issues of tax planning and compliance, health care reform, and the impact on and responses of state and local governments.

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April 3, 2018 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

25% Of Harvard Law Students Suffer From Depression, 20% Are At Heightened Risk Of Suicide

Harvard Law School (2016)Harvard Crimson, Wellness at the the Law School: Promises to Keep and Miles to Go Before We Sleep:

Every law student has met a lawyer who cannot help but offer the advice, “Don’t go to law school.” The misery in the legal profession is seemingly ubiquitous. The mental health crisis facing modern lawyers has been reported so extensively, it barely needs repetition. Yet the causes have been woefully overlooked.

Why hasn’t Harvard taken responsibility for its contribution to this professional malaise? Last year, we pushed Harvard Law School to begin an annual mental health survey to measure the welfare of the student body. We began writing law school-specific survey questions based on our experience as students and worked with university health researchers and administrators to publicize the survey.

The results presented a grisly reality. Among 886 respondents, 25 percent reported suffering from depression. For context, according to the CDC, 7.7 percent of individuals aged 20 to 39 from the general population suffer from depression. 24.2 percent of Law School survey respondents reported suffering from anxiety, and 20.5 percent said they were at heightened risk of suicide. 66 percent of respondents said that they experienced new mental health challenges during law school. Nearly 61.8 percent said they had frequent or intense imposter syndrome experiences at school and in measuring social connectedness, 8.2 percent stated they had zero people they could open up to about their most private feelings without having to hold back.

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April 3, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

IRS Releases 2017 Data Book

2017 Data BookIR-2018-77, IRS Releases 2017 Data Book:

The Internal Revenue Service today released the 2017 IRS Data Book, a snapshot of agency activities for the fiscal year.

The 2017 IRS Data Book describes activities conducted by the IRS from Oct. 1, 2016, to Sept. 30, 2017, and includes information about tax returns, refunds, examinations and appeals, illustrated with charts showing changes in IRS enforcement activities, taxpayer assistance levels, tax-exempt activities, legal support workload, and IRS budget and workforce levels when compared to fiscal year 2016. New to this edition is a section on taxpayer attitudes from a long-running opinion survey.

Highlights of this year's Data Book

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April 3, 2018 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Arkansas, Kentucky Move To Curtail Tenure

AKArkansas Online, UA Board of Trustees Approves Update to Tenure Policy:

An update to a University of Arkansas System policy for the dismissal of tenured faculty was approved by trustees Thursday.

The revision lists 12 examples of reasons for dismissal or discipline. The previous policy listed four and stated that examples "include (but are not limited to) incompetence, neglect of duty, intellectual dishonesty, and moral turpitude." ...

The policy update states that an "unsatisfactory performance" review will lead to faculty being placed in a remediation plan, with the policy taking effect July 1, 2019. Then, if in the next annual review there is not an overall satisfactory performance or no "meaningful progress," the faculty member "may be issued a notice of dismissal on twelve months' notice."

Louisville Courier-Journal, Tenured Kentucky Professors Could be Fired Under a Late Addition to the State Budget:

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April 3, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Holderness: Questioning Quill — In Defense Of The Physical Presence Rule, But Not For Use Tax

Hayes R. Holderness (Richmond), Questioning Quill, 37 Va. Tax Rev. 313 (2018):

The physical presence rule of Quill Corp. v. North Dakota is under increasing attack from the “Kill Quill” movement — a consortium of state tax administrators, industry leaders, and academics opposed to the decision. The physical presence rule prohibits states from requiring many out-of-state vendors to collect taxes on goods sold into the states. Kill Quill states have grown increasingly aggressive, and litigation is well underway in South Dakota and Alabama over those states’ direct disregard for the rule. As a petition to the Supreme Court for certiorari grows closer, the case for overturning the physical presence rule remains cloudy.

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April 3, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 2, 2018

Fleischer Presents The Architecture Of A Basic Income Today At BYU

Fleischer (Miranda)Miranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego) presents The Architecture of a Basic Income (with Daniel Hemel (Chicago)) at BYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Cliff Fleming and Gladriel Shobe:

The notion of a universal basic income (“UBI”) has captivated academics, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and ordinary citizens in recent months. Pilot studies of a UBI are underway across the globe, including in Canada, Finland, Italy, Kenya, and Uganda. Here in the United States, the city of Stockton, California, has partnered with a nonprofit organization to give checks of $500 a month—no strings attached—to several dozen families. And prominent voices from across the ideological spectrum have taken up the UBI idea as well: libertarian Charles Murray, Facebook co-founder and Obama campaign strategist Chris Hughes, and former labor leader Andy Stern all have offered proposals for nationwide programs that resemble a UBI.

To be sure, even the most optimistic advocates for a UBI will acknowledge that nationwide implementation lies years—if not decades—ahead. And accordingly, one might argue that hashing out the nitty-gritty programmatic specifications of a UBI puts the cart before the horse. But as we seek to show below, these design details in many cases are the horse. What might seem like technical aspects of a UBI (e.g., whether it is paid monthly or annually; whether an individual’s future stream of UBI payments can be posted as collateral for a loan; and whether a spouse’s income is factored into the calculation of a phaseout) turn out to be essential elements that affect whether a future UBI will live up to the high expectations that supporters have set.

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April 2, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Brown Presents Homeownership In Black and White: The Role Of Tax Policy In Increasing Housing Inequity Today At Memphis

Brown (Dorothy) (2015)Dorothy Brown (Emory) presents Homeownership in Black and White: The Role of Tax Policy in Increasing Housing Inequity today at Memphis at its MLK50 Symposium: Where Do We Go From Here? (schedule):

Persistent poverty discussions very rarely consider how tax reform might provide additional revenues as solutions are considered. This Essay argues that tax subsidies for homeownership that support most white homeowner experiences to the exclusion of most black homeowner experiences are ripe for reform.

Eric H. Holder, Jr. (82nd Attorney General of the United States (2009-2015); Partner, Covington & Burling) is delivering the keynote address.  Other speakers at the symposium are:

  • Debo Adegbile (WilmerHale)
  • Roy L. Austin (Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis)
  • Cornell Brooks (Former President, NAACP)
  • Tomiko Brown-Nagin (Harvard)
  • Richard Hasen (UC-Irvine)
  • Sherrilyn Ifill (President, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund)
  • Pamala Karlan (Stanford)

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April 2, 2018 in Colloquia | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Applicants From Top Colleges Decreased 7% In 2017, Down 45% Since 2008

Keith Lee, Top University Students Avoiding Law School 2018 Edition:

Back in 2013, I was the first person to notice students graduating from the top universities in the country were avoiding law school in droves. ... Graduating students from the top universities in the country applying to law schools dropped 6.7% from 2016 to 2017. Since 2008, applicants are down a staggering 44.9%.

Lee 2

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April 2, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  This ranking includes downloads from two 30- and 35-page papers by 12 tax professors on the new tax legislation that garnered a lot of media attention (including the New York Times and Washington Post) and generated a massive amount of downloads (the papers are the most downloaded papers over the past 12 months across all of SSRN and the most downloaded tax papers of all-time by over 200%).  See Brian Leiter (Chicago), 11 Tax Profs Blow Up The SSRN Download Rankings. (For some reason, Mitchell Kane (NYU) — the twelfth academic co-author of the two papers — is not included in the SSRN download rankings (although the downloads are included on his individual author page)).  Here is the new list (through  March 1, 2018) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):







Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)



Dan Shaviro (NYU)


Daniel Hemel (Chicago)



Lily Batchelder (NYU)


Lily Batchelder (NYU)



David Gamage (Indiana)


David Gamage (Indiana)



Daniel Hemel (Chicago)


Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)



Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Cliff Fleming (BYU)


Cliff Fleming (BYU)



David Kamin (NYU)


David Kamin (NYU)



Rebecca Kysar (Brooklyn)


Manoj Viswanathan (Hastings)



Manoj Viswanathan (Hastings)


Rebecca Kysar (Brooklyn)



Ari Glogower (Ohio State)


Ari Glogower (Ohio State)



Michael Simkovic (USC)


Gladriel Shobe (BYU)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


Michael Simkovic (USC)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Kyle Rozema (Chicago)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


Hugh Ault (Boston College)



Jim Hines (Michigan)


Stephen Shay (Harvard)



Gladriel Shobe (BYU)


Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


William Brynes (Texas A&M)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Ruth Mason (Virginia)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


Jacob Goldin (Stanford)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Sam Donaldson (Georgia St.)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College)


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

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April 2, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Rankings By Student Quality (LSAT And UGPA)

U.S. News 2019Christopher J. Ryan Jr. (Vanderbilt) & Brian L. Frye (Kentucky), The 2018 Revealed-Preferences Ranking of Law Schools:

In A Revealed-Preferences Ranking of Law Schools, [69 Ala. L. Rev. 495 (2017),] we presented a law school ranking based exclusively on the combined scores of the students in a school’s 2011-16 incoming classes. ... In this article, we present a law school ranking based exclusively on the combined scores of the students in a school’s 2017 incoming class.

Our ranking relies on the ABA Standard 509 Information Reports submitted by all 204 ABA-accredited law schools. Among other things, the Reports provide the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile UGPA and LSAT scores of matriculating students. We used the 2017 Reports to derive an index score for each reporting law school, using those six data points and giving each equal weight. That index score reflects a law school’s ability to compete for the most desirable matriculants. The higher the score, the stronger the students; the lower the score, the weaker the students. Or, viewed another way, the higher the score, the more effectively the school appeals to prospective law students; the lower the score, the less effectively the school appeals to prospective law students.

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April 2, 2018 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Classic Lesson From The Tax Court: Twitty Burgers!

TwittyBurgerMenuThe Tax Court issued no opinions last week, likely because it was holding its Judicial Conference at Northwestern School of Law in Chicago. Our colleagues over at Procedurally Taxing attended and blogged about it here. Les Book reports (here) that the last session of the Conference was looking forward to the future of the Tax Court.

Future, Schmoocher. My love of history keeps my head buried firmly in the sands of the past. For not only is the past prologue, it’s also epilogue. That’s the lesson I take away from this Tax Court classic: Harold Jenkins v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 1983-667, a case I teach as an epilogue to the Supreme Court's classic Welch v. Helvering, 290 U.S. 111 (1933).The Jenkins case deserves your attention not only because of its lesson about the difference between business and personal deductions but also because of the poetry (?) it inspired both from Tax Court Judge Leo H. Irwin and from the IRS Office  of Chief Counsel 

All that, and more, below the fold.

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April 2, 2018 in Bryan Camp, Celebrity Tax Lore, Miscellaneous, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Subscribing To TaxProf Blog

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April 2, 2018 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Annual Report

The IRS has released (IR-2018-75) Program Report and 2018 Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List:


LITC Program Report
The Internal Revenue Service’s Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) Program Office has issued its annual program report, which details how LITCs have provided representation, education, and advocacy for taxpayers who are low income or speak English as a second language (ESL).

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April 2, 2018 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Support TaxProf Blog By Shopping On Amazon

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April 2, 2018 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, April 1, 2018

At Elite Law Reviews, Diversity Efforts May Be Paying Off

National Law Journal, At Elite Law Reviews, Diversity Efforts May Be Paying Off:

In the past few years, some of the country’s most elite law reviews have elected students of color as editors-in-chief, a signal that yearslong diversity efforts might finally be paying off.

Historically speaking, law reviews have struggled to represent students of color and women equally among their editors—jobs that can open doors to prestigious judicial clerkships and Big Law employment. It’s been even harder for underrepresented students to win the coveted editor-in-chief role, as statistically, leadership posts at law reviews have overrepresented white male law students.

Are the times changing?

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April 1, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Mayer: A (Partial) Defense of Section 501(C)(4)'s 'Catchall' Nature

Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer (Notre Dame), A (Partial) Defense of Section 501(C)(4)'s 'Catchall' Nature, 21 N.Y.U. J. Legis. & Pub. Pol'y ___ (2018):

Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(4) provides exemption from federal income tax for “social welfare” organizations. The vagueness of this term and the failure of the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service to interpret it in a manner that would significantly limit that vagueness has led some commentators to criticize this section’s “catchall” nature. While much scholarly attention has been paid to this criticism with respect to the most visible section 501(c)(4) organizations, particularly those involved in political campaign activity and lobbying, almost no attention has been paid to the many less common types of section 501(c)(4) organizations that illustrate that section’s catchall nature. This article fills that gap by considering these less prominent organizations and whether their qualification for exemption under this section is problematic.

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April 1, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fundamentalist U: Keeping The Faith In American Higher Education

UAdam Laats (Binghamton University), Fundamentalist U: Keeping the Faith in American Higher Education (Oxford Univ. Press 2018):

Colleges, universities, and seminaries do more than just transfer knowledge to students. They sell themselves as "experiences" that transform young people in unique ways. The conservative evangelical Protestant network of higher education has been no different. In the twentieth century, when higher education sometimes seemed to focus on sports, science, and social excess, conservative evangelical schools offered a compelling alternative. On their campuses, evangelicals debated what it meant to be a creationist, a Christian, a proper American, all within the bounds of Biblical revelation. Instead of encouraging greater personal freedom and deeper pluralist values, conservative evangelical schools thrived by imposing stricter rules on their students and faculty.

In Fundamentalist U, Adam Laats shows that these colleges have always been more than just schools; they have been vital intellectual citadels in America's culture wars. These unique institutions have defined what it has meant to be an evangelical and have reshaped the landscape of American higher education.

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April 1, 2018 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

SSRN LogoThis week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's list:

  1. [486 Downloads]  Choice-of-Entity Decisions Under the New Tax Act, by Bradley Borden (Brooklyn)
  2. [315 Downloads]  The Elephant Always Forgets: U.S. Tax Reform and the WTO, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) & Martin Vallespinos (S.J.D. 2018, Michigan)
  3. [277 Downloads]  Explaining Choice-of-Entity Decisions by Silicon Valley Start-Ups, by Gregg Polsky (Georgia)
  4. [254 Downloads]  The Impact of the 2017 Act's Tax Rate Changes on Choice of Entity, by Jim Repetti (Boston College)
  5. [214 Downloads]  Country-by-Country Reporting and the International Allocation of Taxing Rights, by Michelle Hanlon (MIT)

April 1, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 31, 2018

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

NHL Stunner: 36-Year-Old Accountant Who Has Never Played Pro Stars In Blackhawks Win

Washington Post: NHL Stunner: A 36-year-old Accountant Who has Never Played Pro Stars in Blackhawks Win:

On Thursday night in the middle of a National Hockey League game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Winnipeg Jets, an unfamiliar figure in a No. 90 Blackhawks jersey stepped onto the ice at the United Center.

“Hey who’s this guy?” an announcer joked.

That guy was Scott Foster, the team’s emergency goalie, a 36-year-old accountant who hadn’t played in a high stakes hockey game in more than 10 years. He played hockey for Western Michigan University from 2002 to 2005 and plays in an amateur league, albeit a high-level one composed of former college and professional players. His venue most of the time is not the Blackhawk’s United Center, with a capacity of 23,000, but Johnny’s Ice House in Chicago’s elite league.

But Foster has never played in the NHL.

Less than 15 minutes after he took the ice, the Blackhawks came away with a 6-2 victory and Foster emerged a hockey legend, delivering a performance that left everyone who watched it in awe....

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March 31, 2018 in News, Shuyi Oei, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)