TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 678

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal Editorial Report, Post Clinton:

Paul Gigot: Well, just in time for 2016, the Justice Department has announced that it is gearing up to prosecute coordination between candidates and outside groups, a move that senior editorial page writer Collin Levy says should worry Republicans in particular and the super PACs that support them.

So, Collin, why is this important, this announcement, and why did they do it now?

Collin Levy: Well, I think you hit it right on the head. They did it now because the election is heating up. Look, Paul, this is scary because illegal coordination happens when a campaign is directly organizing its message with an outside group, which is then effectively spending money on the campaign’s behalf.

Gigot: And that’s illegal. That’s illegal.

Levy: Yes, that’s illegal. But what’s scary here is all the Justice Department really needs is the allegation that that is happening, and then they can go on a fishing expedition, subpoenaing documents, bank records, all sorts of things, immense numbers of records from campaigns in an effort to find the needle in the haystack.

Gigot: Well, the definition of coordination is pretty slippery. I mean, it’s not—I mean, so people may know each other in an outside group and know somebody on the campaign. They may have worked for them previously. What is illegal is calling them up on the phone and saying: “Hey, now we want you to run a $5 million buy in Iowa to influence this race.” But if it’s just sort of in the ether that, you know, we understand the message, we’ve been paying attention to the newspapers and there’s no active coordination, it’s not illegal. But you’re saying this can become a fishing expedition that can dig into everything inside a campaign and create havoc and with a mere accusation, is that fair?

Levy: Yeah, that’s certainly fair. We saw that happen in Wisconsin with the allies of Scott Walker, who, all of a sudden, had prosecutors literally subpoenaing thousands of pages of documents. The same thing could happen with the Justice Department. The fact that they used the words that they were going to “aggressively pursue” possible coordination offenses here I think with us meant as a scare tactic, too. It was meant to put these campaigns on alert. “Hey, you know, we’re watching you.”

Gigot: And there’s a link here, is there not—and this is really interesting—between the Justice Department figure who’s announced this, Richard Pilger, who runs the campaign crime section, and the IRS figure, Lois Lerner, who ran the tax-exempt section of IRS that had harassed conservative groups. Put that together for us.

Levy: Yeah, that’s right. Back in 2010, Mr. Pilger was emailing with Lois Lerner saying, hey, maybe we should look at the possibility of prosecuting some of these tax-exempt groups for any false statements they make on their applications here. So, you know, you get the real sense that he’s a true believer and I think that’s something we should be very wary of.

Gigot: So, Kim, how should Republican campaigns respond to this?

Kim Strassel: Well, look, you have to step back and put this in context. The IRS and the Justice Department thing, this is all part and parcel. More broadly, too, look at the disclosure laws that the Obama administration has wanted to impose on corporations. This is not necessarily about keeping campaign finance law in good order. This is about shutting people up. It’s about making them not talk. So Republicans—that’s going to be the threat to them. And they’re going to have to, I think, continue operating as they normally do. If the Justice Department comes sniffing, make an issue about this.

Most of the groups, by the way, too, Paul, they have teams of incredibly experienced lawyers who do know all the rules.

Gigot: Right.

Strassel: You know, and are keeping them in check. They have to be doubly careful about that, too.

Dan Henninger: Two words.

Gigot: To lawyer up.

Henninger: Two words. Exactly. This is the Democratic obsession, Citizens United, the Supreme Court case that allowed the Republicans to compete on the basis of money with the Democrats. The Democrats are going to take the Republicans down because of Citizens United. This is the method they’ll use.

Gigot: This could pop up at any time during the election campaign.

Henninger: Just intimidate them.

Continue reading

March 18, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Dharmapala Presents Interest Deductions in a Multijurisdictional World Today at Georgetown

Dharmapala (2015)Dhammika Dharmapala (Chicago) presents Interest Deductions in a Multijurisdictional World (with Mihir A. Desai (Harvard)) at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John BrooksItai Grinberg, and David Schizer:

The tax treatment of interest expenses in a multijurisdictional setting raises numerous complexities. This paper catalogs these difficulties and highlights the particular problems associated with efforts to achieve ownership neutrality among multinational corporations (MNCs) when debt financing is available. We argue that the differential deductibility of debt entailed by various current tax law provisions leads in general to potential distortions in the patterns of asset ownership across MNCs, and that various proposed solutions have significant limitations. We suggest several alternative regimes to address both the ownership distortions that we highlight, as well as other well-established problems of income-shifting through debt. These alternative regimes are extensions to a multinational setting of two general approaches to the neutral treatment of interest expenses - the CBIT (comprehensive business income tax) and ACC (allowance for corporate capital). These regimes – a worldwide debt cap (WDC) and a net financing deduction (NFD) – provide solutions to income-shifting and ownership distortions. However, they have the potential disadvantage of restricting other policy parameters.

March 17, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Leff Presents A New Method for Funding Law School Education Today at William & Mary

LeffBenjamin M. Leff (American) presents The Income-Based Repayment Swap: A New Method for Funding Law School Education (with Heather Hughes (American)) at William & Mary today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series:

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

Continue reading

March 17, 2015 in Colloquia, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

ABA Requires Separate Reporting of Law School-Funded Jobs, But Continues to Allow Reporting Them as Long-Term, Full-Time, Bar Passage-Required Jobs

ABA Logo 2Following up on last week's post, ABA May Prohibit Reporting Law School-Funded Jobs as Full-Time, Long-Term Bar Passage-Required Jobs:  ABA Journal, Legal Ed Section's Council Approves Change in Reporting of School-funded Jobs:

The governing Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has approved a proposal to change the way law schools classify school-funded jobs in their reporting of graduate employment outcomes.

The change, recommended by the Section’s Data Policy and Collection Committee, will create a new employment status category for graduates in school-funded jobs on the employment summary form that schools are required to complete for each year’s graduating class.

Under the change, the number of graduates reported in other employment status categories–such as “employed-bar passage required” and “employed-JD advantage”–will be reduced by the corresponding number of graduates in school-funded positions reported elsewhere.

ABA 4

But the council, which met Friday and Saturday in San Francisco, rejected the second part of the committee’s proposal, which was to re-classify most school-funded jobs–now counted as long-term, full-time jobs–as short-term positions.

Continue reading

March 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Music Soothes the Savage Tax Beast

Music 2John Prebble (Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law), Music in Lectures and Examinations to Promote Right Brain Activity:

Since 1998, most of John Prebble’s classes in Laws 211 Contract and Laws 365 Elements of Taxation have been accompanied by background music from the Baroque era, approximately 1600 to 1750. The same music was played in 2012 and 2013 as background to classes in Taxn 301, Advanced Domestic Taxation, a course in the Victoria University Business School.

Broadly speaking, most music from the Baroque period is suitable to listen to while studying or in class. People are not entirely certain why this should be, but one plausible explanation is that Baroque music generally has a very regular tempo and, apart from fast movements, about one beat per second. That is said to be approximately the rate of alpha waves in the human brain. There are thought to be two possible benefits.

Continue reading

March 17, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Senate Holds Hearing Today on Building a Competitive U.S. International Tax System

Senate LogoThe Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing today on Building a Competitive U.S. International Tax System (links to statements and testimony below):

  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Statement
  • Ron Wyden (D-OR), Statement
  • Rosanne Altshuler (Professor of Economics and Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Rutgers University), Testimony
  • Pamela F. Olson (U.S. Deputy Tax Leader & Washington National Tax Services Leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers), Testimony
  • Stephen E. Shay (Professor of Practice, Harvard Law School), Testimony
  • Anthony H. Smith (Vice President of Tax & Treasurer, Thermo Fisher Scientific), Testimony

In connection with the hearing, the Joint Committee on Taxation has released Present Law And Selected Policy Issues In The U.S. Taxation Of Cross-Border Income (JCX-51-15):

Continue reading

March 17, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Barry & Caron: Tax Regulation, Transportation Innovation, and the Sharing Economy

Jordan M. Barry (San Diego) & Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine), Tax Regulation, Transportation Innovation, and the Sharing Economy, 82 U. Chi. L. Rev. Dialogue 69 (2015):

Many emerging companies’ business models center on helping consumers to share assets in new ways. This “sharing economy” has already experienced tremendous growth and attracted considerable investment capital and talent. Yet, as is often the case with economic innovations, existing regulatory structures have hindered the growth of the sharing economy, reducing its popularity and slowing its development.

This Article explores the tension between innovation and regulation, both in general and in a specific context: the intersection of the transportation sector of the sharing economy and the qualified transportation fringe benefit rules of Internal Revenue Code Section 132. We illustrate how regulators’ legitimate concerns combine with the uncertainty surrounding new ways of doing business to create regulatory environments that place new industries at a disadvantage. We also argue that two of the most common approaches that regulators adopt to foster new industries – expanding regulation to encourage new industries and restricting regulation to spur innovation – are both flawed. In tax and other areas of law, these approaches tend to operate cyclically, with each coming into fashion for a time until its flaws are deemed unbearable and it gets replaced by the other. This cycle will continue until someone comes up with a better innovation.

March 17, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

March Madness Law School Bracket

March MadnessHere is the March Madness Law School Bracket, with outcomes determined by the 2016 U.S. News Law School Rankings (using academic peer reputation as a tiebreaker). The Final Four are Harvard (2 in U.S. News), Virginia (8), Duke (8), and Texas (15), with Harvard beating Virginia in the championship game.   The closest match ups are:

  • First Four:  BYU (34) over Mississippi (94)
  • First Round:  SUNY-Buffalo (87) over West Virginia (94)
  • Second Round:  Texas (15) over Notre Dame (22), Villanova 87) over LSU (94), Ohio State (34) over Arizona (42)
  • Sweet 16:  OSU (34, 3.2 peer) over BYU (34, 2.9 peer), UCLA (16) over Iowa (22)
  • Elite 8:  Duke (8) over UCLA (16)
  • Final Four:  Virginia (8, 4.3 peer) over Duke (8, 4.2 peer)
  • Championship:  Harvard (2) over Virginia (8) 

3107_001

March 17, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Symposium: Legal Education Looking Forward

SHSymposium, Legal Education Looking Forward, 44 Seton Hall L. Rev. 967-1129 (2014) (blogged here):

March 17, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monroe: Rethinking Partnership Distributions

Andrea Monroe (Temple), Taxing Reality: Rethinking Partnership Distributions, 47 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 657 (2014):

Partnerships play an increasingly vital role in the federal income tax. Yet partnership taxation is deeply flawed, with complicated provisions that strain the voluntary compliance mechanism on which all federal income tax relies. This article considers one of the most difficult challenges facing partnership taxation: the treatment of distributions.

Continue reading

March 17, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 677

IRS Logo 2The Daily Caller, No More Excuses: Obama Admin Has What It Needs To Give Up Lerner’s Emails:

Obama administration investigators now have everything they need to provide Congress with Lois Lerner’s emails, The Daily Caller has learned.

Treasury Department deputy inspector general Timothy Camus last testified that his office found more than 30,000 of Lerner’s emails, including emails from 2011 that were on a backup tape at a storage facility in West Virginia that the IRS never went to.

But Camus said that the investigation was on hold because his office was haggling over licensing issues with a company that makes special software that Camus said he needs to “match” the emails on the new tapes with the emails that have already been turned over to the House Oversight Committee. Camus said he just needed to make sure that he wasn’t giving Congress emails that it already had.

The Daily Caller has confirmed that the Treasury inspector general’s office has received the special software and is in the process of using it to match the emails.

Continue reading

March 17, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Brown: Law School Without Borders

Following up on her op-ed in last Monday's Washington Post, Law Schools Are in a Death SpiralDorothy Brown (Vice Provost and Professor of Law, Emory), Law School Without Borders, 44 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1050 (2014):

LawyersNow that the music has stopped, instead of law schools having more people than seats, we have more seats than people. Accordingly, law schools are shrinking class size to stave off any negative impact on their U.S. News rankings. But shrinking class size means shrinking revenue, so either some part of the budget must be cut, or universities will have to subsidize the deficit in perpetuity—a very unlikely occurrence.

The largest expenditure in most law school budgets is faculty salaries and benefits, so that should be the natural focus of budgetcutting.  But it will not be. While law firms can fire partners, law schools cannot fire tenured law professors easily while remaining open. ...

Continue reading

March 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (7)

Piketty and Others on Capital in the Twenty-First Century

PikettyThomas Piketty (Paris School of Economics), About Capital in the Twenty-First Century, 105(5) Am. Econ. Rev. 1 (2015):

In this article, I present three key facts about inequality in the long run emerging from this research ... and seek to sharpen and refocus the discussion about those trends. In particular, I clarify the role played by r > g in my analysis of wealth inequality. I also discuss some of the implications for optimal taxation, and the relation between capital-income ratios and capital shares. 

I. What r > g Can and Cannot Explain
[T]he way in which I perceive the relationship between r > g and inequality is often not well captured in the discussion that has surrounded my book. For example, I do not view r > g as the only or even the primary tool for considering changes in income and wealth in the twentieth century, or for forecasting the path of inequality in the twenty-first century. Institutional changes and political shocks— which to a large extent can be viewed as endogenous to the inequality and development process itself—played a major role in the past, and it will probably be the same in the future. In addition, I certainly do not believe that r > g is a useful tool for the discussion of rising inequality of labor income: other mechanisms and policies are much more relevant here, e.g., supply and demand of skills and education.

Piketty 2Wall Street Journal op-ed, Piketty Corrects the Inequality Crowd, by Robert Rosenkranz:

The book’s central proposition, that inequality in capitalist societies will inevitably grow, can be summed up with a simple equation: r>g. That is, the return on capital (r) outpaces the growth rate of the economy (g) over time, leading inexorably to the dominance of inherited wealth. Progressives such as Princeton economist Paul Krugman seized on Mr. Piketty’s thesis to justify policies they have long wanted—namely, very high taxes on the wealthy.

Now in an extraordinary about-face, Mr. Piketty has backtracked, undermining the policy prescriptions many have based on his conclusions. In About Capital in the Twenty-First Century, slated for May publication in the American Economic Review but already available online, Mr. Piketty writes that far too much has been read into his thesis.

Though his formula helps explain extreme and persistent wealth inequality before World War I, Mr. Piketty maintains, it doesn’t say much about the past 100 years. “I do not view r>g as the only or even the primary tool for considering changes in income and wealth in the 20th century,” he writes, “or for forecasting the path of inequality in the 21st century.”  

Instead, Mr. Piketty argues in his new paper that political shocks, institutional changes and economic development played a major role in inequality in the past and will likely do so in the future.

When he narrows his focus to what he calls “labor income inequality”—the difference in compensation between front-line workers and CEOs—Mr. Piketty consigns his famous formula to irrelevance. “In addition, I certainly do not believe that r>g is a useful tool for the discussion of rising inequality of labor income: other mechanisms and policies are much more relevant here, e.g. supply and demand of skills and education.” He correctly distinguishes between income and wealth, and he takes a long historic perspective: “Wealth inequality is currently much less extreme than a century ago.”

Wall Street Journal, Why Thomas Piketty’s Revisions Don’t Fix His Book, by Salim Furth:

Continue reading

March 16, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Final Day for Proposals: Association for Mid-Career Tax Law Professors

Today is the final day to respond to the Call for Proposals issued by the Association for Mid-Career Tax Law Professors (“AMT”):

Mid-CareerAMT is a recurring conference intended to bring together relatively recently-tenured professors of tax law for scholarly discussion. Our inaugural meeting will be held on Thursday and Friday, June 4 & 5, 2015, on the campus of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. We anticipate that official proceedings will wrap up by noon on June 5. Thanks to the generous support of Law, Finance and Governance @ Ohio State and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, AMT is able to provide attendees with conference meals and refreshments. AMT can commit to ensuring that these meals will not be “lavish or extravagant under the circumstances.” Attendees will be expected to cover their own travel and lodging expenses.

Continue reading

March 16, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WaPo: Who Says You Need a Law Degree to Practice Law: Limited License Legal Technicians

LLLTWashington Post op-ed:  Who Says You Need a Law Degree to Practice Law?, by Robert Ambrogi:

Michelle Cummings never went to law school. Her formal college education ended in 1998, with a paralegal studies degree from Highline Community College in Des Moines, Wash. But this summer, Cummings could start taking on legal clients who need help filing for divorce or child custody. Like a fully licensed attorney, she’ll be able to open an office and set her own fees.

Cummings is part of Washington state’s ambitious experiment to revolutionize access to legal services, particularly among the poor. ... Washington state’s answer is a new class of legal professionals called “limited license legal technicians.” They are the nurse practitioners of the legal world. Rather than earning a pricey law degree, candidates take about a year of classes at a community college, then a licensing exam. Once they do, they can help clients prepare court documents and perform legal research, just as lawyers do. “It will save time and heartache,” says Paula Littlewood, executive director of the Washington State Bar Association. “It’s groundbreaking.”

California, Oregon, Colorado and New Mexico say they may follow Washington’s lead. The program, if it spreads, could transform how middle- and lower-class Americans use the law. ...

Continue reading

March 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Kahn: A Tax Audible: Coaches and Buyouts

Jeffrey H. Kahn (Florida State), A Tax Audible: Coaches and Buyouts, 68 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc ___ (2015):

CHarlie StrongAfter Mack Brown resigned, the University of Texas, a school that has one of the premier football programs in the country, looked to hire a new head football coach. The school set its eyes on Charlie Strong. One roadblock was that Strong was still employed as the head football coach of the University of Louisville. In order to be released, Strong’s contract required a buyout payment from Strong to the University of Louisville for $4.375 million. The typical method of handling this has the new university employer reimburse the coach for the buyout or directly pay the buyout to the old university employer. Under those structures, many schools took the position that such payments were includible in the coach’s income for federal tax purposes. The University of Texas, however, accomplished its desired result in a seemingly unique manner that attempted to avoid the income tax issue. In this article, I will explain that this new structure does not improve the prospects for excluding the payment from the coach’s taxable income. However, this does not mean the buyout payment is taxable to the coach. Instead, I will review two independent policy justifications for not taxing the coach regardless of which structure is used.

March 16, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deborah Jones Merritt: What Happened to the Law School Class of 2010?

Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), What Happened to the Class of 2010? Empirical Evidence of Structural Change in the Legal Profession:

Poor employment outcomes have plagued law school graduates for several years. Legal scholars have debated whether these outcomes stem from macroeconomic cycles or from fundamental changes in the market for legal services. This Article examines that question empirically, using a database of employment outcomes for more than 1,200 lawyers who received their JDs in 2010. The analysis offers strong evidence of structural shifts in the legal market. Job outcomes have improved only marginally for the Class of 2010, those outcomes contrast sharply with results for earlier classes, and law firm jobs have dropped markedly. In addition to discussing these results, the Article examines correlations between job outcomes and gender, law school prestige, and geography. In a concluding section, it offers four predictions about the future of the legal market and the economics of legal education.

Table 4A

Continue reading

March 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (7)

Harvard Professor Sues Over Tenure Denial

HarvardBoston Globe, Harvard Professor Challenges School’s Denial of Tenure:

Harvard anthropology professor Kimberly Theidon has a dossier of letters from the university attesting to her “outstanding achievement,” including when she was awarded one of a small number of endowed chairs for untenured professors and when she received an unusually large salary increase.

Theidon says she was told her department had voted unanimously to grant her tenure, and e-mails from colleagues described “stellar” reviews of her work from scholars in her field.

But none of that mattered in the end. Harvard turned down Theidon for tenure last spring, and she must depart the university at the end of the month.

To Theidon, the rejection was evidence of both gender discrimination and retaliation for her support of students victimized by sexual assault and sexual harassment, just as the university was facing a burgeoning student movement alleging the college was mishandling sexual assault cases.

Continue reading

March 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Joint Tax Committee: General Explanation of Tax Legislation Enacted in the 113th Congress

Joint Tax CommitteeThe Joint Committee on Taxation has released General Explanation of Tax Legislation Enacted in the 113th Congress (JCS-1-15) (287 pages):

This document, prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation in consultation with the staffs of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance, provides an explanation of tax legislation enacted in the 113th Congress. The explanation follows the chronological order of the tax legislation as signed into law. 

For each provision, the document includes a description of present law, explanation of the provision, and effective date. Present law describes the law in effect immediately prior to enactment and does not reflect changes to the law made by the provision or by subsequent legislation. Reasons for change are included based on Committee report language for provisions reported by a Committee. For provisions enacted in bills that went directly to the House and Senate floors without a Committee report, no reasons for change are included in this document. 

Continue reading

March 16, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 676

IRS Logo 2WND, Do U.S. Presidents Really Make 'Enemies Lists'?, by Joseph Farah:

Four years ago, I wrote a column called “Obama’s enemies list” predicting Barack Obama’s Internal Revenue Service would subject his domestic political adversaries to politically motivated audits.

How did I know it was coming?

For one thing, my personal tax return in 2009, Obama’s first year in office, was audited. Every single one of my documented deductions was disallowed. The IRS claimed my receipts for books I had purchased for my work as an author, publisher of books, producer of movies and news executive were not substantive enough. They were all Amazon-generated receipts that included dates, purchase price and the fact that they were books. The IRS insisted the receipts had to include the titles of the books purchased. I didn’t think the IRS had any business knowing what I was reading. I still don’t. Because I read a lot of books, it represented a lot of money – more than $8,000 in what the IRS claimed were overdue taxes, with penalties.

Before having my personal tax returns audited in 2009, I had never before faced one in 40 years of professional life. Since then, I have been audited every year Obama has been in office. That’s either a striking coincidence that defies astronomical odds or a striking indictment of IRS policies under Obama. Think about it: No personal audits for four decades, then five out of five years since Obama took office. I fully expect to be audited again for 2014, 2015 and 2016 – Obama’s last three years in office.

But I also expected it because of what I witnessed in the 1990s when Bill Clinton was president. During his first two years in office, Democrats had control of the House and Senate. But in the 1994 midterm election, Republicans took over the House in a stunning repudiation of Clinton’s attempt to nationalize health care. The White House was shocked and embarked on a campaign to identify its political enemies and neutralize them. I was high on the list of those targets and paid a big price for investigating corruption and uncovering scandals in the Clinton administration.

Long forgotten by the press, which writes first draft of history, is the fact that Clinton’s “enemies,” lots of them, were targeted for IRS audits: They included individuals, corporations and nonprofits.

Continue reading

March 16, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Should University Presidents Play a Bigger Role in Faculty Hiring and Tenure?

Inside Higher Ed, Wanting More Say:

Do most presidents really want a bigger role in faculty hiring and tenure decisions? Inside Higher Ed’s annual Survey of College and University Presidents suggests they do. And some of them are playing a larger role than faculty leaders might find reasonable. Ten percent of private college presidents, for example, say they've blocked the hire of scholars whose views they strongly disagreed with. While those findings didn't shock shared governance experts, some were uncomfortable with presidential sentiments.

According to the poll, some 55 percent of presidents say they should take a more active role in decisions about which faculty members to hire. Two-thirds agree or strongly agree that they should take a more active role in deciding who gets tenure. Just 8 and 5 percent of presidents strongly disagree with those statements, respectively. ...

All institutions by sector

 

All

Public

Private

Presidents Should Take More Active Role in faculty Hiring

5-Strongly agree (%)

23

24

22

4

32

31

33

3

20

18

23

2

17

19

15

1-Strongly disagree

8

9

7

Presidents Should Take More Active Role in Faculty Tenure

5-Strongly agree (%)

33

33

30

4

33

33

33

3

18

14

23

2

11

13

10

1-Strongly disagree

5

7

4

Continue reading

March 15, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with new papers debuting on the list at #3 and #4:

  1. [336 Downloads]  Why Corporate Tax Reform Can Happen, by Edward Kleinbard (USC)
  2. [223 Downloads]  David Foster Wallace on Tax Policy, How to Be an Adult, and Other Mysteries of the Universe, by Arthur J. Cockfield (Queen's University)
  3. [171 Downloads]  The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act: American Legal Imperialism?, by Bruce W. Bean (Michigan State) & Abbey Wright Farnsworth
  4. [168 Downloads]  Cancellation of Debt and Related Transactions, by Douglas A. Kahn (Michigan) & Jeffrey H. Kahn (Florida State)
  5. [147 Downloads]  Inevitable: Sports Gambling, State Regulation, and the Pursuit of Revenue, by Anastasios Kaburakis (St. Louis), Ryan Rodenberg (Florida State) & John Holden (Florida State)

March 15, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

California to Require 50 Hours of Pro Bono Work For Law Students to be Admitted to Bar

California State Bar (2014)ABA Journal, Following New York's Lead, California Bar Officials Plan to Require Pro Bono Work for Admission:

Following New York’s lead, bar officials in California are in the process of developing a pro bono program for law students who plan to practice in the state.

Like the policy adopted by the New York Court of Appeals, which took effect Jan. 1, the California plan requires 50 pro bono hours. However, the New York requirement must be completed before applying for admission to the bar. In California, young lawyers would be allowed to perform the 50 hours of free legal work either before or after they are admitted.

A State Bar of California web page provides additional details about the plan, which must be approved by the state legislature and the California Supreme Court before it is final, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Continue reading

March 15, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (21)

The IRS Scandal, Day 675

IRS Logo 2National Review, Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys:

[I]t is impossible for any person with a functioning central nervous system to believe that Hillary Clinton is telling the truth about her emails, inasmuch as her statements on the matter are in conflict with established facts and in conflict with each other. They simply are not compatible with reality. ...

It is impossible to believe that the IRS and the White House have been telling the truth about that agency’s campaign of political persecution of conservative groups leading up to the 2012 election. ...

It is also corrosive. At some point, members of the press — including those who work for ideological and partisan outlets such as National Review and the New York Times (one of which is honest about what it is) — have a moral and professional responsibility to acknowledge that lies are lies. ...

Oprah.com recently reminded its readers of one of my favorite phrases: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” (The original expression is Polish: “Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy.”) I may be a little bit (or more than a little bit) sanctimonious about the fact that I am not a Republican, but it does make the process a little more friction-free when it is time to call Republican BS BS. It would be an excellent thing if the Democrats who dominate the major media would develop and exhibit enough independence of mind that they could publicly acknowledge when they — and therefore the country — are being lied to, when they are being actively deceived by people with political power.

Without that, they are the circus — they are the monkeys.

Continue reading

March 15, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Unsuccessful Conservative Faculty Candidate to Receive Second Trial in Discrimination Suit Against University of Iowa Law School

WagnerFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  National Law Journal, Justices OK Retrial for Law Prof's Political Bias Case:

A part-time legal writing instructor at the University of Iowa College of Law who alleges she was passed over for a faculty position because of her conservative political views will get a second chance to prove her case.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up the law school’s bid to block a second trial. The Iowa Attorney General’s Office in November asked the high court to overturn an appellate ruling ordering a new trial.

The initial verdict favored the defendants, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in July ordered a new trial because of procedural errors. A second trial in Teresa Wagner’s case is likely to be scheduled in April or May.  ...

Continue reading

March 14, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law School Launches First 'Teaching Law Firm'

LAC 2Legal Futures, The First “Teaching Law Firm”? Law School Applies for ABS Licence:

Nottingham Law School, part of Nottingham Trent University, has applied to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for an alternative business structure (ABS) licence that would allow it to create a “teaching law firm”.

The application is believed to be the first made by a university and, if granted, would apply to the law school’s newly expanded Legal Advice Centre.

Continue reading

March 14, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

MIT Announces Its Admission Decisions Today (Pi Day), Via Drone?

Today, Pi Day (3.14.15 at 9:26), MIT is announcing its admission decisions for the Class of 2019:

March 14, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 674

IRS Logo 2Forbes, As Hillary Faces Emailgate, Ex IRS Chief Runs For President, by Robert W. Wood:

As Republicans and Democrats start vying for spots on the 2016 presidential tickets, the presumed Democratic nominee remains Hillary Clinton. Yet she faces what could emerge as a scandal, and like the IRS and its nemesis Lois Lerner, Mrs. Clinton could be undone by emails. The surprise and belated disclosure that Mrs. Clinton used private email rather than State Department email during her term as Secretary of State is at least awkward. ...

With this email gaffe, it could be worth considering dark horse candidates like the head of the IRS. Not the current email-losing-tax-czar Commissioner John Koskinen mind you, but a prior Commissioner of the IRS, Mark Everson. Mr. Everson was head of the IRS for four years under President Bush. Fox’s Neil Cavuto suggested that it would be an unlikely campaign pitch to say “I’m from the IRS and I’m here to help.” ...

But most people in America may not warm to a tax man as President, even without such issues. Mr. Everson’s term at the IRS was not marred in the way of the current IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. For most Americans, the IRS targeting scandal and seeming cover-up of the last two years has damaged greatly the image of an already unattractive agency. Anyone associated with the IRS is likely to be viewed with skepticism.

After the targeting scandal had been underway for over a year, Mr. Koskinen testified that recovery efforts had been thorough, but the tapes and emails just couldn’t be found. As if to goad Republicans, he said that millions in taxpayer money was spent looking. Over 250 IRS employees spent 100,000 hours, costing taxpayers at least $14 million. However, the Treasury Inspector General has revealed that the IT people at the IRS say no one even asked them to recover the emails.

Continue reading

March 14, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Herzig & Brunson: Using the Tax Law to Combat Racist Fraternities and Sororities

SAESlate:  Subsidized Injustice: Racist Fraternities and Sororities Should Have Their Tax-exempt Status Revoked, by David Herzig (Valparaiso) & Samuel Brunson (Loyola-Chicago):

The video of an inexcusable racist chant by members of the University of Oklahoma chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity came as a shock to most viewers. The fraternity’s national headquarters acted swiftly to close the chapter, and the university quickly removed the fraternity from its campus. But the discussion seems to end there.

Treating this as an isolated incident, rather than as a symptom of a larger problem, is shortsighted. ... These incidents show structural inequities in the Greek system. ...

As tax law professors, we naturally see solutions through the prism of the tax law.

Continue reading

March 13, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

A California Law Schools Rankings Renaissance?

2016 U.S. News RankingsFollowing up on my previous posts on the complaints by California law school deans last year that the U.S. News rankings penalize the state's schools:

The overall rankings at eight California law schools—USC, UC-Davis, UC-Hastings, Loyola, University of San Diego, Santa Clara, Pacific McGeorge and University of San Francisco—have fallen, in some cases plunged, in recent years.  The rankings at four other programs—Stanford, UC-Berkeley, UCLA and Pepperdine—have remained relatively stable. (The remaining eight schools remain unranked.)

I have updated the Deans' data with the new 2016 U.S. News rankings.  Of the 12 ranked California law schools, the ranking of eight (67%) increased from 2015; two (17%) decreased; and two (17% were unchanged. The same four law schools either increased their ranking over four years (Stanford, UC-Berkeley, and Pepperdine) or remained the same (UCLA).

 

Name

2012

Rank

2014

Rank

2015

Rank

2016

Rank

1 Year

Change

4 Year

Change

Stanford

3

2

3

2

+1

+1

UC-Berkeley

9

9

9

8

+1

+1

UCLA

16

17

16

16

0

0

USC

18

18

20

20

-2

-2

UC-Irvine

30

UC-Davis

23

38

36

31

+5

-8

Pepperdine

54

61

54

52

+2

+2

UC-Hastings

42

48

54

59

-5

-17

Loyola-L.A.

54

68

87

75

+12

-21

San Diego

67

68

79

71

+8

-4

Santa  Clara

84

96

107

94

+13

-10

Chapman

104

126

140

127

+13

-23

McGeorge

100

124

146

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

San Francisco

100

144

Tier 2

138

n/a

-38

Cal Western

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Golden Gate

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Southwestern

121

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

-25

T. Jefferson

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Western State

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Whittier

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

March 13, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law School Rankings by BigLaw Partners

I received a press release and  executive summary of a forthcoming article in the Buffalo Law Review by Edward Adams (Minnesota) & Samuel Engel, Does Law School Still Make Economic Sense?: An Empirical Analysis of “Big” Law Firm Partnership Prospects and the Relationship to Law School Attended:

This study is the first to comprehensively examine the relationship between law school attended and achieving partnership in the 100 largest American law firms. Seeking to address issues related to a previous study by Ted Seto [Where do Partners Come From, 62 J. Legal Educ. 242 (2012)], the extensive empirical analysis included in this paper is a critical and seminal addition to the increasingly visible debate regarding the value of a legal education, law school rankings, and the factors that should be considered by potential law students when choosing a law school to attend. ...

Table 1 ranks the top 100 law schools, according to an index score based on the number of partners from each school and their weighted class size as further described below.  The table also includes an indicator that states the difference between this ranking and the United States News and World Report ranking.  Although the celebrated T-14 nearly stayed intact, significant differences are seen immediately outside that range.  The index score is included to demonstrate the actual magnitude between different rankings, and the last four columns provide supplementary information helpful in properly analyzing the index score. ...

Table 1:  Index Scores Evaluation

Rank

USNWR-Index

School

Index

% Younger than Mean

2025 Score

Value per Partner

Value Added

1

+3.5

Chicago

437

53.8

425.67

2.22

9.70

2

=

Harvard

413

42.7

368.89

2.29

9.46

3

-2

Yale

341

38.9

267.74

2.36

8.05

4

+.5

Columbia

329

45.1

283.61

2.48

8.16

5

+7

Northwestern

315

54.0

322.14

1.93

6.08

6

+2

Virginia

310

47.7

287.68

1.91

5.92

7

=

Penn

293

48.7

265.17

2.08

6.09

8

-2

NYU

273

52.2

256.89

2.39

6.52

9

-6

Stanford

261

46.5

256.82

2.21

5.77

10

+.5

Michigan

235.79

48.5

224.94

1.97

4.65

11

-.5

Duke

235.71

53.5

234.06

1.99

4.70

12

+1.5

Cornell

233

48.8

201.78

2.15

5.01

13

+.5

Georgetown

231

53.6

241.16

2.04

4.71

14

+7

G. Washington

197.0

53.7

188.14

1.87

3.68

15

-6

UC-Berkeley

196.6

45.4

171.61

2.08

4.10

16

+.5

Vanderbilt

176

51.5

183.39

1.66

2.92

17

+23.5

Illinois

164.2

55.4

197.20

1.77

2.90

18

+9.5

Boston U.

164.0

50.1

157.28

2.01

3.30

19

+18.5

Boston College

161

51.7

167.28

1.95

3.14

20

+6

Notre Dame

160

56.0

168.64

1.73

2.77

21

-6

Texas

157

54.0

155.74

1.81

2.84

22

-3

Emory

156

60.7

175.97

1.75

2.73

23

-2

USC

139

62.9

144.28

1.90

2.64

24

+13.5

Fordham

138

58.2

137.31

2.20

3.04

25

-8.5

UCLA

136

54.1

125.8

1.99

2.71

26

+17.5

Wash. & Lee

128.5

57.2

141.09

1.70

2.19

27

+2.5

Indiana–Bloom.

127.6

52.8

121.86

1.52

1.95

28

+41.5

Loyola–Chicago

121

61.3

136.37

1.69

2.04

29

+67

Villanova

120

42.2

103.2

1.59

1.91

30

+3

North Carolina

114

53.8

123.35

1.64

1.87

31

-13

Washington U.

113

61.2

134.58

1.57

1.77

32

+77.5

Catholic

107

51.3

92.98

1.84

1.97

33

+9

SMU

104.2

56.2

113.99

1.71

1.78

34

+41

American

103.7

61.7

107.54

1.96

2.04

35

+14.5

Florida

100.3

50.6

95.69

1.60

1.60

36

+26

Temple

99.8

55.4

100.4

1.60

1.60

37

+18.5

UC-Hastings

97.1

49.9

87.2

1.81

1.81

38

-13.5

William & Mary

97.0

62.6

105.34

1.68

1.68

39

-6

Wake Forest

95

58.3

104.5

1.44

1.44

40

+61.5

SUNY

94

36.7

72.57

1.72

1.72

41

-20

Minnesota

93

68.2

105.74

1.64

1.64

42

+54

South Carolina

92

50.7

102.95

1.28

1.28

43

-13.5

Georgia

90

52.1

92.7

1.48

1.48

44

+37.5

Pittsburgh

89

56.5

85.53

1.44

1.44

45

-20.5

Washington

88

58.6

97.77

1.46

1.46

46

+19.5

Case Western

86

45.7

82.216

1.32

1.32

47

+18.5

Missouri

84

56.5

95.26

1.30

1.09

48

-10.5

UC-Davis

82

55.6

85.61

1.89

1.55

49

+13

Miami

79.1

56.3

88.04

1.62

1.28

50

-17

Wisconsin

79.0

50.0

69.52

1.74

1.38

51

-23.5

Iowa

78.3

55.6

86.21

1.62

1.26

52

+17.5

Kansas

78.0

60.9

88.61

1.34

1.05

53

-20

Ohio State

76.5

58.2

78.72

1.62

1.25

54

+71.5

DePaul

75

60.9

83.55

1.69

1.27

55

-8

Tulane

72.1

71.6

83.28

1.82

1.31

56

+53.5

St. John’s

71.4

55.3

64.76

1.93

1.37

57

-10

Maryland

70.8

56.0

67.76

1.81

1.29

58

+79

Hofstra

70.25

56.7

68.96

1.89

1.32

59

+30.5

Loyola-L.A.

70.24

60.2

72.14

1.76

1.23

60

-8

Baylor

70.1

55.4

69.05

1.56

1.09

61

-14

George Mason

69.8

76.1

85.57

1.68

1.18

62

-10

Richmond

68.9

49.1

62.42

1.73

1.19

63

+56

Albany

66.98

46.5

52.11

2.10

1.41

64

+11

Chicago–Kent

66.94

67.8

78.32

1.64

1.10

65

+24.5

Seattle

66

77.0

93.72

1.54

1.02

66

+43.5

Santa Clara

65.1

70.3

79.62

1.77

1.15

67

N/A

San Francisco

64.6

53.0

65.83

1.76

1.14

68

-18.5

Utah

64.5

37.3

50.76

1.69

1.10

69

-10

Houston

64.0

65.2

77.38

1.71

1.09

70

-18

Penn State

63.8

56.1

61.76

1.57

1.00

71

+8.5

San Diego

63.4

68.6

78.05

1.65

1.04

72

-28.5

Colorado

61.4

55.8

68.22

1.57

0.96

73

-17.5

Pepperdine

60.77

76.9

78.27

1.73

1.06

74

+31

UMKC

60.76

56.8

69.78

1.23

0.75

75

+6.5

Rutgers-Camden

60.71

59.1

70.12

1.56

0.95

76

+8.5

Brooklyn

60

52.4

55.32

1.97

1.18

77

+19

Saint Louis

59

55.9

65.02

1.32

0.78

78

+31.5

Syracuse

57

58.5

52.27

1.83

1.04

79

N/A

Widener

56.4

78.5

60.63

1.30

0.73

80

+4.5

Rutgers–Newark

55.8

57.7

52.56

1.96

1.10

81

-43.5

Brigham Young

54

64.0

82.89

1.75

0.95

82

-16.5

Yeshiva

53

73.5

68.16

1.99

1.05

83

-8

Tennessee

50

42.9

41.35

1.49

0.75

84

+12

Northeastern

48

67.9

64.99

1.74

0.84

85

-5.5

Cincinnati

47

46.0

40.42

1.59

0.75

86

-16.5

Denver

44.3

62.4

58.83

1.43

0.63

87

+55

NY Law School

43.8

52.7

40.47

1.87

0.82

88

-43

Florida State

43.669

56.4

49.87

1.54

0.68

89

+35.5

Duquesne

43.666

54.8

41.00

1.44

0.63

90

-24.5

Georgia State

42

89.1

53.72

1.59

0.67

91

+5

Franklin Pierce

40.2

75.6

52.38

1.59

0.64

92

-36.5

Nebraska

39.6

55.6

48.27

1.28

0.51

93

-70

Alabama

38

61.3

34.77

1.70

0.65

94

+22

Creighton

37.3

58.6

41.59

1.41

0.52

95

+47

Pace

37.2

65.8

38.20

1.59

0.59

96

-55.5

Arizona

36.2

62.5

43.04

1.52

0.55

97

-7.5

Indiana-Ind.

36.1

62.6

44.11

1.46

0.53

98

-65

Arizona State

36.0

58.6

38.02

1.53

0.55

99

+10.5

Texas Tech

35.3

59.0

41.8

1.75

0.61

100

+5

Mercer

35.2

65.3

39.67

1.58

0.55

March 13, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WaPo Fact Checker: Ted Cruz’s Claim That the Tax Code Has More Words Than the Bible

CruzWashington Post Fact Checker, Ted Cruz’s Claim That the IRS Tax Code Has More Words Than the Bible:

“On tax reform, we, right now, have more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible — not a one of them as good.”

–Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), speech at International Association of Fire Fighters legislative conference, March 10, 2015

Comparing the number of words in the U.S. tax code with the number in the Bible is a common theme among conservatives who fault the tax code for being overly burdensome. In fact, the claim has been made in some variation for at least 10 years.

Cruz is correct on the comparison of words in both texts. But regular readers of The Fact Checker know we frown on such counting exercises, like the number of pages in “Romneycare” health-care law in Massachusetts or the number of pages in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Such comparisons — in this case, the word count of the evolving tax code of the most industrious country in the world to words in a religious document that was written thousands of years ago — don’t really tell you much of anything.

We will not issue a Pinocchio rating or award a Geppetto Checkmark. But it is worth exploring this word-count comparison and how the tax code’s complexities affect taxpayers. ...

The literally translated King James Version of the Bible contains just over 800,000 words. There are as many as 3.7 million individual words in the IRS tax code. (Another count places it as low as 2.6 million words without substantive words such as “is” and “and.”) This number came from copying the text of the code, pasting it into a Microsoft Word document and using the word count function. ...

Continue reading

March 13, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

ABA Journal: As Law School Enrollment Drops, Experts Disagree on Whether the Bottom Is In Sight

ABA Journal, As Law School Enrollment Drops, Experts Disagree on Whether the Bottom Is In Sight:

Given recent trends, it came as no surprise that enrollment at ABA-accredited law schools fell again in 2014, according to figures released in December by the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. It was the fourth straight year in which law school enrollment dropped after peaking in 2010.

Total enrollment in JD programs (including both full-time and part-time students) at the nation’s 204 ABA-approved law schools fell to 119,775 in 2014, down nearly 7 percent from 2013 and about 18.5 percent from its historic high of 147,525 in 2010, according to the data collected by the legal education section. ... The last time total enrollment was so low ...  was 1987—when there were 29 fewer ABA-approved law schools than there are today.

Enrollment of first-year law students also fell in 2014 for the fourth straight year, to 37,924, down 4.4 percent from 2013 and nearly 28 percent off the all-time high of 52,488 1Ls in 2010, according to the numbers collected by the legal ed section. Enrollment of first-year students hasn’t been that low since 1973, according to the section, when there were only 151 ABA-approved law schools in existence—53 fewer than the current count.

ABA 2

Continue reading

March 13, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 673

IRS Logo 2Washington Examiner, Politico Sat on Allegations Lois Lerner Had Prior History of Targeting Conservatives:

Politico scored a journalistic coup with its exclusive 2014 profile on Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the agency's targeting of conservative groups.

But a former Illinois lawmaker who said Politico contacted him repeatedly that year with questions regarding claims he was targeted by Lerner in the mid-1990s has been left wondering why the news group chose to ignore his documented dealings with the former federal official.

"I was shocked," Al Salvi told the Washington Examiner's media desk, describing what he characterizes as several "lengthy" interviews with Politico reporter Rachael Bade.

Lerner went after his 1996 Senate campaign with a lawsuit totaling $1.1 million — an enforcement action that was eventually thrown out of court — when she was working at the Federal Election Commission, according to Salvi.

"I spent something like an hour and a half talking to Politico about this," said Salvi, whose dealings with the FEC are well documented by the federal agency. "And I'm nowhere in the story. They had no intention of using anything I said." ...

And it seems Politico is not the only news organization to ignore Salvi's story, as conservative columnist George Will recently noted. After the IRS hearing and Salvi's Fox News appearance, the Washington Post's George Will in a 2013 column titled "Lois Lerner, the scowling face of the state," repeated the former lawmaker's story.

In another column last week, titled "Rein in the IRS," Will repeated the Salvi story, this time accusing national news organizations of ignoring the serious charge against Lerner. "Roskam's telling of Salvi's story elicited no denial from Lerner," Will wrote. "Neither did the retelling of it in this column. ... No wonder: The story had not been deemed newsworthy by the three broadcast networks' evening news programs, by the New York Times or by the Post."

A Lexis search dated June 4-June 11, 2013, of the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times for coverage of the Salvi story produced no results. A similar Lexis search dated March 2-6, 2014, also produced no results.

Similarly, a TV Eyes search dated June 4-June 11 2013, revealed that neither NBC News, nor CBS News nor ABC News covered Roskam's claim during the IRS hearing. The same was found for a TV Eyes search dated March 2-6, 2014, for Will's repeating of Roskam's claim.

Continue reading

March 13, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thomas Presents User-Friendly Taxpaying Today at UCLA

Thomas (2015)Kathleen DeLaney Thomas (North Carolina) presents User-Friendly Taxpaying at UCLA today as part of its Colloquium on Tax Policy and Public Finance hosted by Jason Oh and Alexander Wu:

Our income tax system is notoriously complex. The sheer volume of the tax code, along with the technical nature of its provisions, means that many individuals don’t fully understand the tax rules that apply to them. This Article refers to this type of tax complexity as “substantive complexity.” Although many commentators have argued for reforms that would simplify the substance of our tax laws, others have argued that substantive complexity is necessary if we want to tax each person according to his or her individual circumstances.

Continue reading

March 12, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Columbia Journal of Tax Law's Tax Matters: King v. Burwell

Columbia Journal of Tax Law LogoThe Columbia Journal of Tax Law has published a new issue of its Tax Matters feature, with three short pieces by tax practitioners responding to a specific cutting-edge tax law issue posed by a tax academic. This issue's prompt is by David Gamage (UC-Berkeley):

Once again, the U.S. Supreme Court will be deciding the fate of Obamacare—in the case of King v. Burwell. Also, once again, the future of American healthcare reform will turn on how the Supreme Court reviews a provision of Obamacare that was enacted through the tax code.

Continue reading

March 12, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Marian Reviews Sanchirico's International Tax and Ownership Nationality

JotwellOmri Marian (Florida), So Who, at the End of the Day, Owns Google (or Apple, or Microsoft, or Pfizer ... )? (Jotwell) (reviewing Chris William Sanchirico (Pennsylvania), As American as Apple Inc.: International Tax and Ownership Nationality, 68 Tax. L. Rev. ___ (2014)):

Clearly, the taxation of “U.S. Companies” plays a major role in public discourse. Roughly speaking, the two sides of the debate can be outlined as follows: U.S. multinational corporations either pay too much (because our tax system is not competitive compared with the rest of the world), or too little (because our tax system is riddled with loopholes). We need to reform our tax system so “U.S. Companies” are at par with their foreign competitors; or, we need to tighten our tax rules so as to make sure that “U.S. Companies” share the burden. While political views differ, the terms of the debate seem clear. Whichever side of the debate one takes, something must be done about how we tax “U.S. companies.”

Sanchirico, however, questions the core terms of the debate: “When we speak of ‘U.S. multinationals,’ what do we mean by ‘U.S.’? More specifically, to what extent are these ‘U.S.’ companies owned by non-U.S. investors?” Sanchirico’s ultimate answer is quite a shocker: we have no idea what we are talking about when we speak of “U.S. Companies,” at least in terms of who owns these companies. ...

Continue reading

March 12, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Official Dies in Office, Co-Workers Don't Notice for Two Days

BBC News, Finns Miss Death in Tax Office:

A tax office official in Finland who died at his desk was not found by his colleagues for two days.

The man in his 60s died last Tuesday while checking tax returns, but no-one realised he was dead until Thursday.

The head of personnel at the office in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, said the man's closest colleagues had been out at meetings when he died. ...

Continue reading

March 12, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (12)

Senate Holds Hearing Today on Protecting Taxpayers from Schemes and Scams During the 2015 Tax Filing Season

Senate LogoThe Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing today on Protecting Taxpayers from Schemes and Scams During the 2015 Tax Filing Season (links to statements and testimony below):

  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Statement
  • Ron Wyden (D-OR), Statement
  • Caroline Ciraolo (Acting Assistant Attorney General, Tax Division, U.S. Department of Justice), Testimony
  • Timothy Camus (Deputy Inspector General for Investigations, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, U.S. Treasury Department), Testimony
  • Mike Alley (Commissioner, Indiana Department of Revenue), Testimony
  • John Valentine (Commission Chair, Utah State Tax Commission), Testimony
  • Ellen Klem (Director of Consumer Outreach & Education, Office of the Attorney General, Oregon Department of Justice), Testimony

March 12, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

New 2016 U.S. News Tax Rankings

2016 U.S. News RankingsHere are the new 2016 U.S. News Tax Rankings, along with last year's rankings:

2016

Rank

 Tax

Program

2015

Rank

1

NYU

1

2

Florida

2

2

Georgetown

3

4

Northwestern

4

5

Virginia

11

6

San Diego

8

7

Boston University

5

8

Columbia

8

8

Harvard

8

10

Loyola-L.A.

14

11

UCLA

12

12

USC

12

13

Miami

5

13

Michigan

15

15

U. Washington

10

16

Indiana

n/r

17

Pennsylvania

n/r

18

Villanova

n/r

19

Boston College

n/r

19

Chicago

n/r

19

Texas

n/r

22

Duke

n/r

22

Washington U.

n/r

24

Denver

n/r

24

Yale

n/r

The biggest upward moves:

  • +6:  Virginia (#5)
  • +4   Loyola-L.A. (#10)
  • +2:  San Diego (#6), Michigan (#13)

The biggest downward moves:

  • -8:  Miami (#13)
  • -5:  U. Washington (#15)
  • -2:  Boston University (#7)

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

Continue reading

March 12, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The End of College

The End of CollegeNew York Times:  College for a New Age, by Joe Nocera:

Kevin Carey has a 4-year-old girl. Carey, the director of the education policy program at the New America Foundation, has been thinking about the role of universities in American life for virtually his entire career. But after his daughter was born, that thinking took on a new urgency.

“All of a sudden there is a mental clock,” he told me the other day. “How am I going to pay for her college education? I wanted to write a book that asked, ‘What will college be like when my daughter is ready to go?’ ”

His answer is his new book, The End of College, which is both a stinging indictment of the university business model and a prediction about how technology is likely to change it. His vision is at once apocalyptic and idealistic. He calls it “The University of Everywhere.”

“The story of higher education’s future is a tale of ancient institutions in their last days of decadence, creating the seeds of a new world to come,” he writes. If he is right, higher education will be transformed into a different kind of learning experience that is cheaper, better, more personalized and more useful.

Continue reading

March 12, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Has $1 Billion In Tax Refunds for People Who Have Not Filed a 2011 Return

BillionIR-2015-44, IRS Has Refunds Totaling $1 Billion for People Who Have Not Filed a 2011 Federal Income Tax Return:

Federal income tax refunds totaling $1 billion may be waiting for an estimated one million taxpayers who did not file a federal income tax return for 2011, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. To collect the money, these taxpayers must file a 2011 tax return with the IRS no later than Wednesday, April 15, 2015.

"Time is running out for people who didn’t file a 2011 federal income tax return to claim their refund," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "People could be missing out on a substantial refund, especially students or part-time workers. Some people may not have filed because they didn’t make much money, but they may still be entitled to a refund.” ...

Here is the state-by-state breakdown:

Continue reading

March 12, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Senate Seeks Input on Bipartisan Tax Reform

Senate LogoSenate Finance Committee Press Release, Hatch, Wyden Launch New Effort to Seek Input on Bipartisan Tax Reform:

Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today announced a bipartisan effort to begin soliciting ideas from interested members of the public and stakeholders on how best to overhaul the nation’s broken tax code to make it simpler, fairer, and more efficient. The goal of this effort is to provide additional input, data, and information to the Committee’s bipartisan tax working groups, which are currently analyzing existing tax law and examining policy trade-offs and available reform options within each group’s designated area.

“By opening up our bipartisan working groups to public input, we hope to gain a greater understanding of how tax policy affects individuals, businesses, and civic groups across our nation,” Hatch and Wyden said. “In doing so, we will also equip our working groups with valuable input, and we hope these suggestions will help guide the groups through the arduous task of putting forth substantive ideas to reform the tax code in each of their areas.”

Continue reading

March 12, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 672

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial, Eric Holder’s Speech Police: Justice Gears Up to Prosecute Campaign ‘Coordination’:

You know the 2016 election is heating up when the Justice Department announces it’s gearing up to prosecute campaign-finance “coordination” between candidates and outside groups. If you thought the IRS targeting of conservative nonprofits was troubling, watch what Justice can do to criminalize political speech. ...

A coordination investigation can be started on almost any pretext. All you need is an allegation that someone talked to someone they should not have. Once the investigation makes it over that low evidentiary hurdle, the feds can comb through every shred of personal and group communications to find illegal contact.

We’ve seen how this wrecking ball works in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker’s conservative allies had their records seized and homes raided based on mere claims of coordination. Justice is now essentially giving itself sway to probe every Republican presidential campaign based on an accusation from some left-wing activist. ...

The head of Justice’s Election Crimes Branch, Richard Pilger, is a proponent of criminal coordination investigations at the Justice Department. Two attendees tell us that at a Practicing Law Institute seminar in September 2014 Mr. Pilger said this explicitly.

Mr. Pilger was also a foot on the gas pedal during the IRS’s increased screening of conservative 501(c) groups. In 2010 he reached out to then IRS tax-exempt chief Lois Lerner about prosecuting nonprofits that engaged in political activity for making false statements on their tax returns. In an October 2010 email exchange, Ms. Lerner and Mr. Pilger discussed the transfer of data on 501(c) organizations. The Justice Department ended up with a database of 1.1 million documents, including protected taxpayer information.

Ms. Lerner knows all about campaign “coordination,” having led a multiyear FEC coordination investigation into the Christian Coalition in the 1990s. Ms. Lerner was pursuing a theory that the group had illegally coordinated its issue advocacy with candidates. That theory was rejected in federal court.

The Justice Department may now be trying to pick up where the IRS and Ms. Lerner left off. Justice spokesman Peter Carr emailed us a statement that the universe of potential criminal prosecution is broad: “The opportunity to commit the crime has increased dramatically with changes in the law that have caused a substantial increase in the amount of independent expenditures and the number of independent expenditure entities.” That’s a new business opportunity for activists at the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 who wrote to Justice last week celebrating the news. But coordination investigations touch on the core of First Amendment protected political speech.

The prospect of a Justice Department asking who talked to whom and when during a political campaign should give even liberals the chills.

Meantime, GOP campaigns better lawyer up because Mr. Pilger’s speech police are gunning for you.

Continue reading

March 12, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Columbia Journal of Tax Law Publishes New Issue

Columbia Journal of Tax Law LogoThe Columbia Journal of Tax Law has published  Vol. 6, No. 1:

March 11, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)