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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Boston College Seeks to Hire a Tax Clinician

BC LogoBoston College Law School seeks to hire a full-time tax clinician:

Boston College Law School seeks a full-time faculty member interested in establishing and teaching in a transactional clinic that emphasizes entrepreneurship, technology, and the innovation economy.

JOB DESCRIPTION: The successful applicant will be expected to expand the offerings of one of our existing clinics or develop a new program, which may include hybrid arrangements with outside institutions such as incubators, corporations or law firms, and may include simulation as a method of instruction. The focus of teaching should be business formation, business transactions, taxation, or intellectual property. The successful applicant will play a major role in determining the clinic's specific emphasis and operation.

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October 14, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Henderson: Is the Legal Profession Showing Its Age?

The Legal Whiteboard:  Is the Legal Profession Showing Its Age?, by William D. Henderson (Indiana):

The figure below suggests that a growing number of students are attending law school but not going on to become lawyers.  This conclusion requires some explanation, which I will supply below.  Alternative explanations are also welcome, as I’d like to find a plausible narrative that foreshadows a brighter future for the licensed bar. [PDF version of this essay]

Slide14

I have shown this chart to various law firms, legal departments, law faculty and bar association audiences.  Through this process, I have developed two working theories that are not mutually exclusive:

  1. Increased exits from law practice based on gender integration
  2. Slowing absorption of law graduates into the licensed bar

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October 14, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 523

IRS Logo 2Town Hall:  The White House Dogs, by Erick Erickson:

There are two dogs living in the White House other than the Obamas' pet dog. The first of the two dogs is the one that eats all the homework. It has been let loose across government agencies.

The Internal Revenue Service had an encounter with the dog. Lois Lerner, in charge of the division accused of harassing conservative groups, suddenly had her hard drive crash. All her emails were gone. Then six other employees mysteriously had their emails vanish. All seven were relevant to the congressional probe of the IRS.

The emails appear not to be on any servers. They do not seem to have been backed up, or the back ups were destroyed too. The emails have simply vanished. It is just awfully convenient that they were emails involved in a congressional probe.

Once the dog finished eating emails at the IRS, it moved over to the Environmental Protection Agency. The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a request for certain emails and text messages from or to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. According to the Washington Times last Wednesday, the EPA now says thousands of text messages related to Ms. McCarthy have simply disappeared. Her emails too are gone. The Competitive Enterprise Institute and the EPA are involved in a lawsuit, making the disappearance of the emails even more serious.

Now it is not just congressional Republicans looking at disappearing data. A federal judge is involved, too. Congressional Republicans can be dismissed far more easily than a federal judge in a black robe with a gavel.

It seems the IRS and EPA are not the only government agencies visited by this hungry dog. The Securities and Exchange Commission has lost hundreds of computers with information on them that could be used for insider trading purposes. ...

That leads us to the other dog living in the Obama White House. In "Silver Blaze," a short story about Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a prized racehorse went missing the night before a major race. Holmes, investigating the disappearance and the related death of the horse's trainer, refers "to the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime." The curious incident was that the dog did not bark. The dog at the stables made no sound as the thief stole the horse because the dog knew the thief.

The Obama administration has not barked in these cases. Internal Revenue Service emails from employees under investigation by Congress have been deleted. The Obama administration's best guess is that there was just an unfortunate coincidence of timing with an obligatory reference to "partisan witch hunts." The same holds for the EPA and now the SEC.

The Obama administration has expressed little concern, mostly taking the opportunity to blame Republicans. Government data has been deleted, and no one in the White House seems concerned. The dog is not barking. ...

The matters on which the White House dogs are willing to bark and be quiet should direct the attention of an objective press. The silence on the IRS and EPA is very telling.

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October 14, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sanchirico Presents International Tax and Ownership Nationality Today at Florida

SanchiricoChris Sanchirico (Pennsylvania) presents As American as Apple, Inc.: International Tax and Ownership Nationality, 68 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2014), at Florida today as part of its Graduate Tax Program Colloquium Series:

The ownership nationality of large US multinational companies plays an implicit but important role in the current debate over how such companies should be taxed. This paper identifies that role and investigates what is actually known about where these companies’ shareholders reside.

October 13, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mayer Presents Taxing Politics Today at Loyola-L.A.

MayerLloyd Hitoshi Mayer (Notre Dame) presents Taxing Politics at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

This draft Article addresses two key questions relating to the interaction between federal tax law and political activity. First, is it advisable as a policy matter for Congress to use the tax law to regulate the flows of money in politics in furtherance of non-tax goals such as combatting corruption, promoting equality, and encouraging democratic participation? I answer this first question generally no, in significant part because the tax law and the IRS are poorly suited for this role and suffer significant collateral damage when their poor fit becomes evident, as the ongoing controversy over the IRS’ handling of exemption applications filed by Tea Party and other conservative groups reveals. Second, does tax law in its current form treat political activity properly based on longstanding tax policies relating to what constitutes income, what expenses should be deductible, what constitutes a taxable gift, and what characteristics organizations should have in order to qualify for tax exemption? I answer this second question generally yes, but identify several areas where the tax law needs to be changed to achieve greater consistency with such policies, including with respect to reducing the amount of political activity that is deemed permissible for most types of tax-exempt organizations.

Ellen Aprill (Loyola-L.A.) and Justin Levitt (Loyola-L.A.) are the commentators.

October 13, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should Law Schools Consolidate Multiple Sections of a Course to Save Money, Free Up Faculty Time?

Inside Higher Ed, A New Metric:

It’s hard to raise much excitement over a chart, but a recent one that breaks down how colleges can reduce the number of sections they teach and reduce faculty time while educating the same number of students might be getting there. But not all the excitement is positive. 

The chart is part of a summary of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded studies by the Education Advisory Board, a business that produces research for colleges. The board looked at seven colleges, mostly regional public universities whose names have not been revealed, and tried to figure out what it costs to teach students. Analysts combed through 250 million rows of data to draw up reports that spelled out the costs of each student credit hour in each section in each department of each college. ...

On a simple chart, the results are stunning: here’s how many classes are empty compared to the current maximum class size -- so, if you combined enough relatively empty classes, you could teach the same number of students without increasing caps on class size. The data also allow administrators to easily see how much it costs to teach the average credit hour in each department, a comparison that has been done elsewhere but that faculty say can be dangerous.

Chart

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October 13, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Does the USA Really Soak the Rich?

Next New Deal (Blog of the Roosevelt Institute), Does the USA Really Soak the Rich?:

There's a new argument about taxes: the United States is already far too progressive with taxation, it says, and if we want to build a better, eglitarian future we can't do it through a "soak the rich" agenda. It's the argument of this recent New York Times editorial by Edward D. Kleinbard, and a longer piece by political scientists Cathie Jo Martin and Alexander Hertel-Fernandez at Vox. I'm going to focus on the Vox piece because it is clearer on what they are arguing.

There, the researchers note that the countries “that have made the biggest strides in reducing economic inequality do not fund their governments through soak-the-rich, steeply progressive taxes.” They put up this graphic, based on OECD data, to make this point:

You can quickly see that the concept of "progressivity" is doing all the work here, and I believe the way they are going to use that word will be problematic. What does it mean for Sweden to be one of the least progressive tax state, and the United States the most? ... 

When average people usually talk about soaking the rich, they are talking about the marginal tax rates the highest income earners pay. But as we can see, in Sweden the rich pay a much higher marginal tax rate [56% v. 39%]. ... 

[Jo Martin and Hertel-Fernandez] are measuring how much of tax revenue comes from the top decile ...  and calling that the progressivity of taxation. ...  The fact that the United States gets so much more of its tax revenue from the rich when compared to Sweden means we have a much more progressive tax policy, one of the most progressive in the world. Congratulations?

The problem is, of course, that we get so much of our tax revenue from the rich because we have one of the highest rates of inequality across peer nations. How unequal a country is will be just as much of a driver of the progressivity of taxation as the actual tax polices. In order to understand how absurd this is, even flat taxes on a very unequal income distribution will mean that taxes are “progressive” as more income will come from the top of the income distribution, just because that’s where all the money is. Yet how would that be progressive taxation?

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October 13, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Do Lawyers Blog?

Legal Productivity, Why Do You Blog? 23 Lawyers Weigh In:

Blogging means different things to different people but I’m less interested in narrowly defining blogging, than examining why lawyers blog. So I went to the source and asked: “Why do you blog?” Twenty-three lawyers responded, some of whom have been at it for a very long time.

Several have their own practice or are part of a larger firm. Many still maintain their blog, while some write for other blogs. Topics range from their area of legal expertise to other interests like technology and practice management. But these blogging lawyers all have one thing in common: they write with passion and purpose. Business development doesn’t drive their writing. These lawyers blog because they love to write and share their knowledge, experience, and passions.

October 13, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Christians: It's Time to Fix FBAR

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Allison Christians (McGill), Paperwork and Punishment: It's Time to Fix FBAR, 76 Tax Notes Int'l 147 (Oct. 13, 2014):

Allison Christians argues that the U.S. Foreign Bank Account Report regime is excessive and offers suggestions to narrow its scope and ease compliance burdens.

October 13, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Congress, GAO Target ‘Supersize’ IRAs

Super Size MeFollowing up on my previous posts:

Wall Street Journal Tax Report:  Washington Scrutiny of ‘Supersize’ IRAs, by Laura Saunders:

Washington is taking a hard look at tax-sheltered retirement accounts, especially “supersize” ones worth millions of dollars. Savers should consider what it could mean for them.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, an arm of Congress, recently released a report on individual retirement accounts, requested by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D., Ore.). Its publication coincided with Senate hearings on retirement savings held last month.

The GAO study addressed questions many people asked after disclosures that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney had a traditional IRA worth as much as $101 million and technology entrepreneur Max Levchin put more than 13.3 million shares of Yelp YELP -5.11% stock in a Roth IRA before the firm went public in 2012.

How many supersize IRAs are there? The GAO estimates more than 300 individuals or families have IRAs with balances greater than $25 million, while more than 9,000 have IRAs worth more than $5 million. The GAO wasn’t able to distinguish between regular and Roth IRAs, given the data. ...

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October 13, 2014 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Henderson: Does Coop Placement Accelerate Law Student Professional Development?

The Legal Whiteboard:  Does Cooperative Placement Accelerate Law Student Professional Development?, by William D. Henderson (Indiana):

NortheasternThe title of an earlier essay posed a threshold question for legal ed reform: "If We Make Legal Education More Experiential, Would it Really Matter?" (Legal Whiteboard, Feb 2014) (PDF). I answered "yes" but admitted it was only my best guess.  Thus, to be more rigorous, I outlined the conditions necessary to prove the concept.

The essay below is a companion to the first essay.  It is a case study on how one type and brand of experiential education -- cooperative placements at Northeastern Law -- appears to accelerate the professional development of its law students. The outcome criteria are comprised of the three apprenticeships of Educating Lawyers (2007) (aka The Carnegie Report) -- cognitive skills, practice skills, and professional identity.

The better outcomes flow from Northeastern's immersive, iterative, and integrative approach. First, students are immersed in full-time coops that last a standard 11 weeks. Second, students move through four iterations of coops interspersed with four quarters of upper-level classes. Third, this experiential approach is integrated into the Law School's value system -- i.e., the experiential component is perceived as central rather than marginal to the School's educational mission.

Northeastern's coop model asks more of faculty and students, thus it may be hard to replicate. Yet, there is evidence that such an approach does in fact accelerate professional development in ways that ought to please law school critics and reformers. The benefits may be well worth the costs. ...

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October 13, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 522

IRS Logo 2New York Observer:  Sex, Lies, and . . . White House Counsel; Ruemmler Blunders Into Secret Service Mess, by Sidney Powell:

Enter Kathryn Ruemmler, former White House Counsel, repeatedly discussed on the “short list” for Attorney General. ...

As we reported previously, not only was Ms. Ruemmler in the middle of the IRS email scandal, the Benghazi cover-up, and the most vigorous “protector” of a president while increasing government secrecy and violating the rights of others, the Post places her squarely in the middle of the cover-up of the Cartagena sex scandal for which the Secret Service and the military took the sole blame for having several prostitutes spend the night before the President arrived. ...

According to Mr. Obama, those involved in the “Hookergate” scandal were just “a couple of knuckleheads” in the Secret Service. Wait, that sounds familiar. Oh yes, the IRS targeting of conservative political groups was just “a couple of boneheads” in the Cincinnati office of the IRS, and there wasn’t a “smidgeon of corruption” in Mr. Obama’s IRS.

Anyone still buying that must have been comatose for the last several months, during which we learned of the ever increasing number of computer crashes, and that the IRS deliberately destroyed Lois Lerner’s blackberry—a fact the IRS tried to hide from federal judge Emmet G. Sullivan. These developments may have a role to play in Mr. Holder’s departure—the real reasons for which I believe are yet to surface.

Our entire government is imploding in deceit and dishonesty. The United States has become the laughingstock of the world, and the vacuum in leadership of this country is sucking the very air we breathe. Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Mr. Obama golfs while ISIS beheads. Meanwhile, Kathryn Ruemmler’s on his short list for Attorney General.

There are reasons for his “trust” in her that are obvious to him, but she “ain’t no friend of mine.”

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October 13, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, October 12, 2014

More on Canaries in the Law School Coal Mine

Following up on my previous post, Former AALS President: Thomas Jefferson Is 'The Canary in the Coal Mine of Legal Education,' Expects Six Law Schools to Close:  George Leef, The Canary in the Law School Coal Mine?:

CanaryCoal miners used to bring a canary down into the mine to warn them when the air was becoming too dangerous. If the canary went limp, it was time to get out.

For the last several years, conditions for American law schools have been getting progressively more dangerous, as students respond to the realities of the market: the legal profession is over-saturated with people holding Juris Doctor credentials. Law schools have been graduating far more students than there are legal jobs, and the number of jobs is apt to shrink further as technology sinks its teeth into legal work.

In his recent City Journal article Machines v. Lawyers, Northwestern Law School professor John O. McGinnis explained why the demand for lawyers will keep shrinking. “Law is, in effect, an information technology – a code that regulates social life. And as the machinery of information technology grows exponentially in power, the legal profession faces a great disruption not unlike that already experienced by journalism, which has seen employment drop by about a third….”

Throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s, law was a growth industry and a great many people (especially students who had taken “soft” majors in college) figured that earning a JD was an attractive option. Naturally, law schools expanded to accommodate the throngs of degree seekers, who were aided by federal student loan programs. Going to law school both delayed the need to start repaying undergraduate loans and appeared to be the pathway into a bright and lucrative career.

That’s not true anymore. ...

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October 12, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads on SSRN, with a new paper debuting on the list at #5.  The #1 paper is now #19 in all-time downloads among 10,386 tax papers:

  1. [3288 Downloads]  'Competitiveness' Has Nothing to Do with it, by Edward D. Kleinbard (USC)
  2. [336 Downloads]  2013 Developments in Connecticut Estate and Probate Law, by Jeffrey A. Cooper (Quinnipiac) & John R. Ivimey (Reid and Riege, Hartford)
  3. [219 Downloads]  The OECD'S Flawed and Dated Approach to Computer Servers Creating Permanent Establishments, by Monica Gianni (Florida)
  4. [131 Downloads]  Rights Without Remedies, by Matthew L. M. Fletcher (Michigan State)
  5. [126 Downloads]  Home-Country Effects of Corporate Inversions, by Omri Y. Marian (Florida)

October 12, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. News to Issue Global University Rankings

U.S. News Logo (2014)Inside Higher Ed, 'U.S. News' to Issue New Global University Rankings:

U.S. News and World Report has announced that it will release its first global ranking of universities on Oct. 28. U.S. News plans to publish a global ranking of the top 500 universities across 49 countries, as well as four regional, 11 country-level, and 21 subject area-specific rankings. 

The Best Global Universities ranking will be based on reputational data, bibliometric indicators of academic research performance, and data on faculty and Ph.D. graduates. Robert Morse, U.S. News’s chief data strategist, said that there will be no cross-over of data between the publication's longstanding ranking of American colleges and the new global ranking, which will rely on data from Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters also provides data for the global university ranking compiled by Times Higher Education (THE). 

“What we’re doing is completely, 100 percent independent from THE,” Morse said. “It’s our methodology, our choice of variables, our choice of weights, our choice of how the calculations are done, our choice of how the data’s going to be presented.”

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October 12, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 521

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Lois Lerner And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Robert W. Wood:

Lois Lerner–the former IRS official at the heart of Tea Party targeting–is retired from the IRS. Despite being held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify, she hasn’t been prosecuted. Yet after her long silence, her exclusive interview with Politico was anything but reticent and reserved. In it, Ms. Lerner said she did nothing wrong and considers herself  the victim.

Ms. Lerner bristled at any suggestion she had anything to do with destroying emails, switching to texts, letting her own liberal views influence her treatment of Tea Party a_holes, crazies. etc. Yet in a curious turn of events, journalist and Crapitalism author Jason Mattera showed up in her nice Bethesda neighborhood to pepper her with questions. They included such zingers as “Do you feel bad about turning the government into a weapon to crush political dissent?”

This time, Ms. Lerner wasn’t flanked by lawyers and facing softball questions at Politico. And who can blame her for not wanting to answer these questions. So she scurried to a neighbor’s house and started knocking on the door, begging to be admitted. Ms. Lerner’s day got worse when her neighbors seemed to, well, ‘Take the Fifth’ about letting her in. She  stood there on the porch, while Jason Mattera probes with barbs like, ‘it doesn’t feel good to be targeted does it?’

AlexanderOK, this may not be journalism’s finest hour, nor does it necessarily mean much that Ms. Lerner didn’t want to answer these questions. It may not even mean much that the neighbor has probably had enough, and didn’t want to be involved. That’s so no matter how much the neighbor may like Ms. Lerner, or her dogs for that matter.

I’m not saying that anyone wants to be hounded (excuse the pun), either. But being hounded and asked questions of this sort cannot be entirely unexpected and may not even be unfair, especially after Ms. Lerner’s exclusive interview with Politico. It all sounds a little like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, based on the book by Judith Viorst. Just like Lois Lerner’s day, from the moment Alexander wakes up, everything goes wrong. ...

Want even more terrible, horrible, no good items? How about those rogue employees in Cincinnati doing things they shouldn’t. I’ll bet all those missing emails would prove once and for all that those confused rogue Cincinnatians did all the targeting non-biased and careful review with no help from the boss. Too bad the hard drive is gone destroyed buried not available despite best efforts. Maybe Alexander had something. Maybe moving to Australia wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all?

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October 12, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ryan: Valuation Lessons From Estate of Adell

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Kerry A. Ryan (St. Louis), Valuation Lessons From Estate of Adell, 144 Tax Notes 1455 (Sept. 22, 2014):

In Estate of Adell [T.C. Memo. 2014-155], the Tax Court determined that the correct value of a decedent’s interest in a closely held corporation was the figure reported on the original estate tax return. The court rejected alternative values as either using the incorrect valuation method or failing to account for the significant value of a key employee’s personal goodwill. 

October 11, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Camille Nelson to Step Down as Suffolk Law School Dean

Boston Business Journal, Suffolk Law School Dean to Leave at Year's End:

SuffolkThe dean of Suffolk University Law School, Camille Nelson, will step down at the end of the current academic year, Suffolk University said in a press release.

Nelson joined the law school in September 2010 as the first woman and the first person of color to lead the law school. Suffolk University will conduct a national search to replace her.

In an email sent to the Suffolk University community on Thursday announcing her decision, Nelson offered no explanation, though Suffolk said in its press release that she is leaving to pursue other opportunities. ...

Nelson's announcement comes on the heels of the university's news in August that James McCarthy, the former president, had abruptly stepped down and being replaced by Norman Smith, who now serves as Suffolk University's interim president. The university little explanation for McCarthy's departure, except that he would be pursuing business and consulting opportunities.

Earlier this summer, Suffolk Law School announced that it had closed its Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service and returned the $5 million endowment it had received from the Jerry and Phyllis Rappaport and the Jerome Lyle Rappaport Charitable Foundation to launch the center in 2006. The university's decision, which also included ending an endowed chair at the law school, came as a surprise to the Rappaport family.

Suffolk's 2010-2013 admissions and placement data.  Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

October 11, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Elon Law School Shortens J.D. to 2.5 Years, Cuts Total Tuition by $14k (to $100k)

The IRS Scandal, Day 520

IRS Logo 2Forbes: Is IRS A Smidgen Corrupt? Ask Lois Lerner, NetJets, Buffett & 150 Million Taxpayers, by Robert W. Wood:

[A]ny dealings with the IRS today may be more unsettling than in the past because many have less confidence today that the system is fair and impartial. It is hard to overstate how important this is. Some of it comes back to the last 18 month who’s-on-first routine on display from the IRS.

Lois Lerner wouldn’t talk to Congress, although she is collecting a nice pension. Despite being held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify, she hasn’t been prosecuted. Maybe her refusal is constitutionally protected, maybe not. Yet after her long silence, in an exclusive interview with Politico, Ms. Lerner said she did nothing wrong and she considers herself the victim.

She bristled at any suggestion she had anything to do with destroying emails, switching to texts to avoid being traced, letting her own liberal views influence her treatment of tea party a_holes, etc. It isn’t only Ms. Lerner who comes off as above the law. IRS Commissioner Koskinen did his share of testifying about the email mess. Sadly, he somehow managed to seem arrogant, uninformed, and perhaps even a tad dismissive that his organization had any explaining to do.

The IRS and its thousands of dedicated employees deserve far better. Yet given the IRS’s current image problem, might some taxpayers feel justified in cheating on their taxes? I hope not, but I’ll bet some might think of this. Some of the public may not be able to get past the apparent stonewalling. Some of the public may wonder if they would get a pass from the IRS if their hard drive ate their tax records.

Some taxpayers may go beyond fudging their taxes and take their distrust to the courts. It already happened with True the Vote’s lawsuit against the IRS. But you can’t win without evidence. See Judge sides with IRS in search for Lerner emails. More suits could be impacted too. As noted in The Lois Lerner App, NetJets has asserted that the IRS “wiped clean a number of computer hard drives containing e-mails and other electronic documents that the government was required to produce.” ...

Will some taxpayers cheat after seeing this kind of behavior? I hope not, but some might justify it to themselves. When thousands of emails go missing from the key time period? And, when no one said anything about the emails being missing until one year into a federal investigation? Might some taxpayers cheat after seeing this kind of behavior? ...

Whatever one’s political views, politics are not supposed to matter to the IRS. Taxes and tax administration can’t be even remotely based on politics. We all need to believe that, and more generally, in the fairness of the system. One’s tolerance for coincidence should not have to be work overtime to be convinced.

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October 11, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Brooklyn Hosts 2014 Scholar’s Roundtable Today

Brooklyn Logo 1Brooklyn hosts the 2014 Scholar’s Roundtable today with this tax panel:

October 10, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Tax Roundup

October 10, 2014 in Tax, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

October 10, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

October 10, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kleinbard: Don't Soak the Rich

New York Times op-ed:  Don’t Soak the Rich, by Edward D. Kleinbard (USC):

In response to the growing income disparity between the wealthy and the merely well off — not to mention the middle class and working class — an increasing number of economists and politicians have called for higher tax rates on top incomes. That would collect more revenues, and make our tax system more progressive, by collecting a disproportionate share of those new revenues from the highest income taxpayers, a fact that appeals to many people’s sense of fairness.

But even taking into account regressive state and local taxes, the American tax system already is the most progressive in the developed world. And the scars left by the 2013 fight over the “fiscal cliff” tax deal imply that trying to raise top marginal income tax rates to the levels suggested by some academics would be, well, a wholly academic exercise.

That does not mean, however, that we are bereft of instruments to tackle income inequality. In fact, achieving equality through the tax structure is the wrong way to think about the issue. Reformers have blundered by confusing what seems fair — more progressive taxation — with what is actually important, and lacking: a progressive fiscal system. As other developed countries have figured out, reducing inequality is not about where the money comes from, but where the money goes, and how much of it is spent.

A fiscal system encompasses both the tax and the spending sides of government. What we should care about is whether those two functions, taken as a whole, enhance the lives of average citizens. To that end, the right focus is not how progressively we finance government spending (i.e., tax ourselves), but rather the net effect of both sides of the equation — government taxing and government spending. Does the combination of the two advance or retard Americans’ prospects for a decent standard of living and equality of opportunity?

It turns out that progressive fiscal outcomes do not require particularly progressive tax systems — just big ones, to support substantial government investment and insurance programs. That’s because government spending invariably is very progressive: Lower-income Americans get disproportionately more value from government spending, relative to their incomes, than do the affluent, because they rely much more on public schools, social services and health care. ...

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October 10, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Boston College and Tax Analysts Host Conference Today on Reforming Entity Taxation

BCTABoston College and Tax Analysts host a conference today on Reforming Entity Taxation at Boston College:

Keynote Speaker:  Lee Sheppard (Tax Analysts)

Panel #1: Reforming Entity Taxation: Corporations

  • Papers: Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Alabama), Deborah Schenk (NYU), Dan Shaviro (NYU)
  • Moderator:  Jeremy Scott (Tax Analysts)
  • Commentator:  Brian Galle (Boston College)

Panel #2:  Reforming Entity Taxation: Partnerships

  • Papers:  Karen Burke (Florida), Andrea Monroe (Temple), Gregg Polsky (UNC)
  • Moderator:  Amy Elliot (Tax Analysts)
  • Commentator:  James Repetti (Boston College)

Panel #3: Reforming Entity Taxation: International

  • Papers:  Allison Christians (McGill), Robert Peroni (Texas), Martin Sullivan (Tax Analysts)
  • Moderator:  Sam Young (Tax Analysts)
  • Commentator:  Diane Ring (Boston College)

October 10, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

SALT Teaching and Junior Faculty Development Conference

SALTUNLV is hosting the 2014 SALT Teaching Conference Program on Legal Education in a Time of Change: Challenges & Opportunities and 12th Annual LatCrit-SALT Junior Faculty Development Workshop.

Teaching Tax/Business Law Courses Through a Social Justice Lens:
As Congress continues to use the federal tax systems (e.g., income, FICA, Medicare) for delivering social benefits and redistributing wealth these concepts are critical to understanding tax theory and practice generally. Moreover as our tax systems become more opaque, the public and political discourse regarding how these systems work or don’t work has become disconnected from the facts. As tax policy and administration have become increasingly politicized, presenting these issues to our law students has become even more critical and challenging. This group of tax faculty will discuss these issues generally and specifically will discuss techniques and strategies for incorporating consideration of race, gender, sexual orientation, poverty, and politicization of tax matters into the basic tax law course.

  • Anthony Infanti (Pittsburgh)
  • Francine Lipman (UNLV)
  • Leo Martinez (UC-Hastings)

October 10, 2014 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Do Professors Have a Right to Be Told Why They Have Been Denied Tenure?

Inside Higher Ed, Right to Know Why Not:

Kessler 2Some 28 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, $1.4 million in research funding and strong evaluations along the way – but still no tenure. The only thing more disturbing to Dylan Kesler, an assistant professor of wildlife sciences at the University of Missouri at Columbia, than his failed bid this summer is that he still hasn’t been told why. Kesler thinks he’s being retaliated against for blowing the whistle on alleged misuses of federal research funds in his department. But he says can’t confirm that or appeal the university’s decision without a formal reason for his denial.

While admittedly more complicated than most tenure disputes, Kesler’s case raises a basic question: Does a professor have a right to know why he or she didn’t earn tenure?

The American Association of University Professors says yes. Its Statement on Procedural Standards in the Renewal or Nonrenewal of Faculty Appointments recommends that “in the event of a decision not to renew an appointment, the faculty member should be informed of the decision in writing, and, upon request, be advised of the reasons which contributed to that decision.” The statement also says that the faculty member should be able to request reconsideration of the unsatisfactory decision.

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October 10, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 519

IRS Logo 2New York Sun:  Department of Injustice, by Conrad Black:

This brings us to the excruciating and horrifying saga of the Internal Revenue Service. It is clear, despite an administration effort to muddy the waters and strangle the congressional investigation, that the president and his party’s leaders in Congress launched a Herculean effort to bully the IRS to silence conservative organizations critical of the administration, and that the IRS, led by the head of the tax-exempt-organizations section, Lois Lerner, did its best to comply with this request. The extent of the collusion has been made difficult to fix with precision because Ms. Lerner’s hard drive disappeared and she has declined to answer congressional questions, exercising her right to avoid self-incrimination.

No one believes that her e-mails vanished accidentally, but let us note the contrast between the complacency with which the Democratic national media have assimilated this news with the hysteria that followed the revelation that Rose Mary Woods, Richard Nixon’s assistant, had lost only 18 minutes of a Watergate tape. Because of synchronized IRS non-cooperation and the likely destruction of evidence, it is hard to be sure of the extent of the contact between Democratic eminences and the national tax collector, but the existence of many meetings and e-mail exchanges has been established. (Senator Schumer had publicly urged the IRS to crack down on the “extraordinary influence” of the Tea Party and other Republican groups.) Ms. Lerner eventually took leave from her position and was accused of contempt of Congress. It is hard not to be contemptuous of the Congress, but that does not excuse refusal to answer amid the heavy suspicion of destruction of evidence.

President Obama installed John Koskinen, a “turn-around” expert from Fannie Mae, to clean up the IRS. But he has construed his role to be the obstruction of the congressional investigation, in appearances that were sanctimonious filibusters to explain the IRS’s conduct by standing on what he fancies to be his dignity and fuming with righteousness when the committee members suggested that he is not cooperating (which, of course, he isn’t). The administration’s own investigation has been a slapstick farce, largely led by Ms. Lerner’s chief associate in persecuting Republican political organizations, Jack Smith, now head of the public-integrity unit of the Justice Department. The administration is determined to kill the whole investigation, and there is little doubt that a thorough airing of the matter would show the conduct of much of the senior levels of the administration to be, to say the least, discreditable.

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October 10, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Call for Tax Papers: Michigan Young Scholars’ Conference

The organizers of the 2015 Michigan Law School Young Scholars' Conference are seeking submissions for a tax panel:

MichiganThe University of Michigan Law School is pleased to invite submissions for its 2015 Young Scholars’ Conference to be held on March 27-28, 2015, at the University of Michigan Law School.

The conference is designated to provide aspiring doctoral students and recent graduates with a forum to present and discuss their work among academic peers from different nationalities and legal disciplines. The conference aims to promote fruitful research collaboration between its participants, and to encourage their integration in a community of legal scholars. ...

We welcome applications from current doctoral students, both in law and law-related disciplines, and from recent graduates of doctoral programs. The deadline for abstract submissions is December 2, 2014.

October 9, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: In-State Students Are Increasingly Left Out as Colleges Welcome More Higher-Paying Out-of-State Students

Wall Street Journal, Colleges’ Wider Search for Applicants Crowds Out Local Students; State Schools Look to Higher-Paying Out-of-State Students to Fill Budget Holes:

Last spring, Nicholas Anthony graduated as co-valedictorian of Malibu High School with a résumé that included straight A’s, top marks on nine advanced placement exams, varsity quarterback and baritone horn in the wind ensemble.

But Mr. Anthony didn’t get into the top two public schools in his home state: the University of California, Berkeley or the University of California, Los Angeles. Instead, he is going to Brown University, an Ivy League school which will cost over $100,000 more during four years.

Mr. Anthony’s experience is an example of an aftershock still reverberating across higher education in the wake of the recession: Qualified residents are getting crowded out of their state universities by students paying higher tuition from out-of-state and foreign countries.

“If I had been born five years earlier, I would have gotten in,” said Mr. Anthony.

State funding for public universities fell by 23% in real dollars between 2008 and 2013, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

To backfill the billions that evaporated from their budgets, public schools around the nation raised tuition and fees. When public outcry forced them to moderate those increases, scores of universities turned to out-of-state students who pay two to three times as much in tuition as their in-state counterparts.

But that out-of-state windfall is coming at a cost that is now being paid by people like Mr. Anthony: fewer seats for in-state students, even the most highly qualified.

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October 9, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (18)

The Notorious R.B.G., Exercise, and Tax

The New Republic, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is an American Hero, by Jeffrey Rosen:

RBGJeffrey Rosen: You are famously a huge opera fan. But recently you’ve become an Internet sensation because of another kind of music. There are all these T-shirts going around the Internet saying, “NOTORIOUS R.B.G.” So my first question is: Do you even know who the Notorious B.I.G. is?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: My law clerks told me. ... 

JR: Your health is good?

RBG: Yes, and I’m still working out twice a week with my trainer, the same trainer I now share with Justice [Elena] Kagan. I have done that since 1999.

JR: Do you work out together?

RBG: No, she’s a lot younger than I am, younger than my daughter. She does boxing, a great way to take out your frustrations.

JR: And what do you do?

RBG: I do a variety of weight-lifting, elliptical glider, stretching exercises, push-ups. And I do the Canadian Air Force exercises almost every day.

JR: What are the Canadian Air Force exercises?

RBG: They were published in a paperback book put out by the Canadian Air Force.  When I was twenty-nine, that exercise guide was very popular. I was with Marty [Fn 3:  Justice Ginsburg’s husband, the tax law expert Martin D. Ginsburg, who died in 2010] at a tax conference in Syracuse. We stopped to pick up a lawyer to attend the morning program with us. He said, “Just a moment, I have to finish my exercises.” I asked him what those exercises were. He replied they were the Canadian Air Force exercises and said he wouldn’t let a day go by without doing them.

The lawyer who told me about the Canadian Air Force exercises stopped doing them years ago. I still do the warm-up and stretching regime almost every day. ...

JR: You were an admirer of Chief Justice Rehnquist. How have the workings of the Court changed under Chief Justice Roberts?

RBG: I was very fond of the old chief. I am also an admirer of the current chief, who had extraordinary skills as an advocate. He was a repeat player at oral argument, always super prepared, engaging in his presentation, and nimble in responding to the Court’s questions. As to the change, I regard the Roberts / Rehnquist change as a “like / kind exchange,” an expression tax lawyers use. ...

 (Hat Tip: Erik Jensen.)

October 9, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Kirk Stark Named Barrall Family Professor of Tax Law and Policy at UCLA

Kirk J. Stark (UCLA) has been named Barrall Family Professor of Tax Law and Policy at UCLA:

Stark (2014)James D. C. Barrall ’75 and Carole Barrall (UCLA ’75) established the UCLA School of Law Barrall Family Endowed Chair in Tax Law and Policy in honor of Jim's parents, Raymond C. and Shirley C. Barrall. James Barrall is a partner in the Los Angeles office of the international law firm Latham & Watkins and serves as the global co-chair of the firm's Benefits and Compensation Practice. The chair recognizes the achievements of a distinguished faculty member whose scholarship and teaching contribute to excellence in the field of tax law and and policy at UCLA School of Law. Professor Kirk J. Stark, whose research focuses on taxation and public finance, with a particular emphasis on state and local tax policy and U.S. fiscal federalism, is the first Barrall Family Endowed Chair in Tax Law and Policy.

 

October 9, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Abreu & Greenstein: The Rule of Law as a Law of Standards -- Interpreting the Internal Revenue Code

Alice Abreu (Temple) & Richard K. Greenstein (Temple), The Rule of Law as a Law of Standards: Interpreting the Internal Revenue Code, 63 Duke L.J. Online ___ (2014):

Although fields of law ordinarily comprise both rules and standards, and foundational tax scholars such as Professors Surrey, Warren, and Bittker understood the importance of standards in tax law, many tax scholars and professionals have come to regard federal tax law as “the paradigmatic system of rules.” The vision of tax-as-rules is particularly alluring because rules have been associated with rule-of-law values, and it seems that the rule of law might be especially important in the field of taxation. The rule of law constrains the coercive power of government, and perhaps few powers are viewed with as much suspicion as the taxing power. Our claim that the existence of many rules in the tax law does not dictate the interpretation of all tax formulations as rules seems to threaten critical rule-of-law values. Nevertheless, we believe with Surrey and Warren that tax, like other areas of law, can flourish only if the IRS and the courts are able to respond to “unforeseen cases as they arise” and that this flexibility demands that many Code provisions be interpreted as standards. We also believe that this use of standards does not threaten rule-of-law values. In this essay we defend both propositions.

To do so we engage pointedly with Professor Larry Zelenak’s critique of the position we took in our earlier article, Defining Income [11 Fla Tax Rev. 295 (2011)], where we claimed that the category of “gross income” in the Internal Revenue Code is best understood as a standard, not a rule. In Custom and the Rule of Law in the Administration of the Income Tax, Professor Zelenak worried that our position threatened the rule of law by “stretch[ing] beyond the breaking point” the concept of interpretation [Custom and the Rule of Law in the Administration of the Income Tax, 62 Duke L.J. 855 (2012)].

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October 9, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Princeton Review's Best 169 Law Schools (2015 Edition)

Princeton 2015The Princeton Review has published the 2015 edition of The Best 169 Law Schools (FAQ) (User's Guide):

The Princeton Review surveyed over 19,500 students to create our book's school profiles and its 11 unique ranking lists.

Best Professors:  Based on student answers to survey questions concerning how good their professors are as teachers and how accessible they are outside the classroom.

  1. Duke
  2. Boston University
  3. Virginia
  4. Washington & Lee
  5. Chicago
  6. Pepperdine
  7. Stanford
  8. St. Thomas (Minnesota)
  9. Samford
  10. Regent

Huffington Post, Law Schools With the Best Professors

Best Quality of Life:  Based on student assessment of:  whether there is a strong sense of community at the school, how aesthetically pleasing the law school is, the location of the law school, the quality of the social life, classroom facilities, and the library staff.

  1. Virginia
  2. Duke
  3. Chapman
  4. St. Thomas (Minnesota)
  5. Northwestern

Best Classroom Experience:  Based on student answers to survey questions concerning their professors' teaching abilities, the balance of theory and practical skills in the curricula, the level of tolerance for differing opinions in class discussion, and their assessments of classroom facilities.

  1. Stanford
  2. Duke
  3. Virginia
  4. Chicago
  5. Northwestern

Best Career Prospects:  Based on school reported data and student surveys. School data include: the average starting salaries of graduating students, the percent of students immediately employed upon graduation and the percent of these students who pass the bar exam the first time they take it. Student answers to survey questions on: how much the law program encourages practical experience; the opportunities for externships, internships and clerkships, and how prepared the students feel they will be to practice the law after graduating.

  1. Northwestern
  2. UC-Berkeley
  3. Chicago
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. NYU

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October 9, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Washburn Seeks to Hire a TaxProf

Washburn LogoWashburn University School of Law invites applications for tenure-track faculty positions in taxation and decedent estates and trusts. For more information or to apply, contact Nancy G. Maxwell, Chair, Faculty Recruitment Committee.

October 9, 2014 in Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Will Social Justice Save Law Schools?

Following up on Tuesday's post on Edward Rubin (Vanderbilt), The Future and Legal Education: Are Law Schools Failing and, If So, How?, 39 Law & Soc. Inquiry 499 (2014):  Orin Kerr (George Washington) noted in the comments:

Social JusticeIf I understand Rubin correctly, he believes that two future trends will profoundly reshape U.S. legal education: (1) The future will be technologically different from today, and lawyers will be needed create the new legal arrangements for that different future based on an understanding of new technologies, and (2) Our future society will realize that social justice demands that everyone get free lawyers paid for by the state for their legal problems, which will create a dramatically expanded need for lawyers. As for (1), it's not clear to me why law school training would need to change in any substantial way for that. As for (2), the evidence supporting that prediction seems very thin. Or so it seems to me; I'm curious if others who have read the article have a different reaction.

Here is an extended excerpt of Ed's argument on "The Social Justice Agenda and Legal Education" (citations and footnotes omitted):

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October 9, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

WSJ: France Challenges Google's Tax Structure

Wall Street Journal, Google’s Tax Setup Faces French Challenge; Arrangement Channels European Revenue to Country With Favorable Tax Laws:

GoogleGoogle Chief Executive Larry Page met with France’s premier late last month and quietly pressed home a message: Google has invested heavily in France and is willing to do more. ...

Barely mentioned, according to one of the people, was an elephant in the room: Google is in the midst of a battle with France over a March tax assessment of possibly over a billion euros. More than just a wrangle over a bill, the fight calls into question an arrangement Google and many other companies use that shields revenue originating in European countries from those countries’ tax authorities.

“France is not anti-Google. But when you look at the profit that they make in France, and the number of customers they have, and the tax they pay, it’s outrageous,” says French Deputy Minister for Digital Affairs Axelle Lemaire.

Google’s prickly relationship with France reflects an era of conflict between Europe and technology’s superpowers. National governments and regulators are pursuing American tech firms over issues ranging from their handling of personal data to their marketplace power. The European Union on Tuesday said it will probe Amazon’s tax arrangements with Luxembourg, just a week after the EU attacked tax deals granted by Ireland to Apple as illegal state aid. ... 

The French tax dispute is one of the more fundamental conflicts because it takes aim at a structure in such widespread use. The structure channels most revenue from various European countries to a single corporate unit in a country that has favorable tax laws. [See How Google's French Tax Structure Works.]

This is a crucial first step in a process that some companies take further by ultimately routing much of the income to where it faces no tax at all. For Google to lose could have ripple effects for multinationals across Europe, potentially leading to other investigations and pressures to change structures.

“This could open the floodgates,” says Edward Kleinbard, a law professor at the University of Southern California and former chief of staff for Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation. “If France falls, so do Germany and the rest.”

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October 9, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 518

IRS Logo 2Bloomberg BNA, U.S. Sidesteps NetJets' Accusations It Destroyed E-Mail Evidence in $643 Million Tax Case, by Marc Heller:

The Justice Department avoided addressing accusations from fractional aircraft ownership company NetJets that the IRS destroyed e-mail evidence sought as part of a fight over $643 million in taxes in an Oct. 6 reply brief.

NetJets had argued in a Sept. 29 motion before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio that the Internal Revenue Service was “reckless” in its destruction of hard drives that contained information being sought by the company and in violation of an order from a magistrate judge. NetJets said the proper sanctions against the government would be to deny DOJ's motion for summary judgment.

DOJ, however, dodged the issue of evidence and argued in its reply brief that changing Federal Aviation Administration regulations can't give NetJets a pass on paying federal transportation taxes on its fractional aircraft program.

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October 9, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

2014 World Law School Rankings

QSHere are the U.S. law schools in the 2014 World Law School Rankings (based on academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per paper, and h-index per faculty member), along with each school's position in the latest SSRN World Law School Faculty Rankings):

1.   Harvard (#1 in SSRN)
4.   Yale (#7)
5.   NYU (#6)
6.   Stanford (#5)
9.   Chicago (#3)
10. UC-Berkeley (#12)
11.  Columbia (#4)
17.  Georgetown (#8)
24.  Pennsylvania (#9)
30.  Cornell (#30)
31.  Michigan (#19)
35.  UCLA (#13)
39.  Virginia (#20)
42.  Duke (#16)
45.  Northwestern (#10)
51-100.  American (#41)
51-100.  Boston University (#29)
51-100.  Notre Dame (#48)
51-100.  Texas (#28)
51-100.  Wisconsin (#97)
101-150.  Arizona State (#60)
101-150.  Fordham (#22)
101-150.  George Washington (#2)
101-150.  Minnesota (#21)
101-150.  North Carolina (#45)
101-150.  UC-Davis (#40)
101-150.  USC (#23)
101-150.  University of Washington (#82)
151-200.  Florida (#54)
151-200.  Illinois (#17)
151-200.  Indiana (#47)
151-200.  Ohio State (#69)
151-200.  Penn State (#61)
151-200.  Pittsburgh (#95)
151-200.  Temple (#32)
151-200.  UC-Irvine (#31)
151-200.  William & Mary (#84)
151-200.  Washington University (#33)

October 8, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Tax Lawyer Publishes New Issue

The Tax Lawyer (2013)The Tax Lawyer has published Vol. 67, No. 4 (Summer 2014):

October 8, 2014 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mnookin: A Dissent From the Practice-Ready Movement

Jennifer L. Mnookin (UCLA), Reflections on Law Teaching, 62 UCLA L. Rev. Disc. 126 (2014):

PracticeThere is one goal that is being bandied about now with some frequency that I think we, as teachers, should resist.  That’s the idea that one of our chief functions is to make our students, as we often hear it put, “practice ready on day one.”

I confess I don’t entirely know what it means for students to leave law school “practice ready on day one.”  Our students will be practicing in so many different ways, and in so many distinct areas, that what they need, in terms of grounded, concrete, practical knowledge, cannot possibly be reduced to a checklist.  There surely are not one-size-fits-all solutions, notwithstanding some of the unfortunate proposals gaining traction these days, like the potential—and in my view distressingly excessive—fifteen credits of experiential education requirement put forward by the California Bar.7   Perhaps every law student should indeed have some exposure to experiential or skills-based training while in law school, but to say that every lawyer is better off with a full  semester of such training fails to ask the “compared-to-what?” question.  

For some students fifteen credits of skills training may be a quite appropriate and valuable use of their time.  But, for others, it may mean many missed opportunities to pursue other options that would have been more personally and professionally valuable.  It should be the students, the law schools, and the marketplace that decide whether, for example, an externship is or is not more valuable for the future transactional lawyer than a variety of upper-level courses in corporate finance and other subjects that may have significant practical payoff without being explicitly defined as experiential; or whether the future would-be appellate litigator is better served by a skills class followed by a live-client clinic or, instead, selections from the many upper level doctrinal offerings.

There are, to be sure, major challenges facing law schools right now, but this  should, in my view, be a moment for curricular deregulation, not intensified gatekeeping by the bar of what law schools do.  I say this not because I believe that law schools should continue in their teaching as if it is business as usual, but rather as a corollary to what I said before: We should be encouraging experimentation and innovation, not stymying it, nor limiting it by channeling it in only in one predetermined direction.

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October 8, 2014 in Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (6)

Smith: Changes in Agencies’ Interpretations of Their Own Regulations and Auer Deference

Patrick J. Smith (Ivins, Phillips & Barker, Washington, D.C.), Changes in Agencies’ Interpretations of Their Own Regulations and Auer Deference:

Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association, a case that is currently pending before the Supreme Court, involves the validity of a D.C. Circuit rule relating to the Administrative Procedure Act notice-and-comment requirements for rulemaking. Under the APA, substantive rules are subject to the notice and comment requirements but interpretative rules are not. Under this D.C. Circuit rule, if an agency has adopted an interpretation of one of its own substantive regulations in a guidance document that would not itself otherwise be a substantive rule, the agency must nevertheless use notice-and-comment procedures to change the interpretation. Although the D.C. Circuit has not done so, this rule can be justified based on the Auer deference principle under which agency interpretations of their own regulations are given deference similar to the deference that is given under Chevron to agency statutory interpretations. Under Auer, an agency interpretation of its own regulation can be viewed as having the force of law, and as a result should be viewed as itself a substantive rule, since a substantive rule is a rule with the force of law. As a substantive rule, notice-and-comment procedures are required.

October 8, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Schizer: The Influence of Tax on Managerial Agency Costs

David Schizer (Columbia), Tax and Corporate Governance: The Influence of Tax on Managerial Agency Costs:

OxfordThis chapter of the Oxford Handbook on Corporate Law and Governance canvasses a broad range of ways that tax influences managerial agency costs, focusing especially on the United States. In doing so, this chapter has two goals. The first is to help corporate law experts target managerial agency costs more effectively. The analysis here flags when tax is likely to exacerbate agency costs, and when it is likely to mitigate them. Armed with this information, corporate law experts have a better sense of how vigorous a contractual or corporate law response they need. In some cases, a change in the tax law may also be justified. This chapter’s second goal, then, is to enhance our understanding of tax rules, shedding light on a set of welfare effects that are important but understudied. After all, tax policy is more likely to enhance welfare if policymakers weigh all possible welfare effects, including managerial agency costs.

Overall, the U.S. tax system’s record in influencing agency costs is not encouraging. After all, a tax system’s priority is not to reduce agency costs, but to raise revenue efficiently and fairly. Government tax experts do not usually have the expertise or motivation to tackle corporate governance problems. Tax also is a poor fit because it typically applies mandatorily and uniformly, while responses to agency cost should be molded to the context. For example, promoting stock options or leverage will be valuable in some settings, but disastrous in others. There also are political hurdles to be overcome. Accordingly, when tax rules target agency costs, the results often are poorly tailored or even counterproductive.

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October 8, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NYU Seeks to Hire Acting Assistant Professor of Tax Law

NYU Tax LogoThe NYU School of Law Graduate Tax Program is seeking applicants for its Acting Assistant Professor of Tax Law Program for the 2015-16 academic year, commencing August 1, 2015.

For over fifty years, the NYU Acting Assistant Professor of Tax Law (“Tax AAP”) program has launched the careers of dozens of tax academics.  Tax AAPs show promise as legal scholars and have a strong interest in teaching. They serve on a full-time, non-tenure track basis at the Law School for two academic years. At the start of their second year, Tax AAPs are expected to seek a tenure-track position on the law school academic job market.

While in residence at the Law School, Tax AAPs devote a substantial amount of time to their scholarship and begin to develop their research agendas. Tax AAPs teach one or two courses in the Graduate Tax Program each semester. Each Tax AAP also either serves an Assistant Editor of the Tax Law Review, the nation’s top tax policy journal, or works with the International Tax Program, the leading graduate tax program for non-U.S. lawyers.

How to Apply

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October 8, 2014 in Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

ATPI Hosts Conference on Taxation and Migration

ATPI Logo (2015)The American Tax Policy Institute hosts a conference on Taxation and Migration organized by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) and Joel Slemrod (Michigan) in Washington, D.C. (Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, 1441 New York Avenue, N.W.) on October 17 (free registration here):

The conference assesses the effects of taxation on the migration across national and state boundaries of individuals at various stages of their lives. It will also evaluate whether corporate migrations (such as "inversions") involve migration of individuals, and what are the tax policy implications for the US and other jurisdictions. 

October 8, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Afield: Harnessing Taxpayer Choices to Improve Educational Quality

W. Edward Afield III (Ave Maria), Winning the Crowd: Harnessing Taxpayer Choices to Improve Educational Quality, 63 Cath. U. L. Rev. 297 (2014):

This article presents a novel approach to the debate over the best way to improve educational policy. Building off of research showing that decisions made by groups can be superior to those made by even the smartest members of those groups, this piece shows how this concept of a "wise crowd" can be applied to improve outcomes even in a complex policy debate like educational policy. Educational policy currently exhibits a host of competing ideas for the best mechanism to improve student outcomes. These competing ideas can be seen in the wide variety of schools that exist and that compete for resources to implement their approaches. Public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, International Baccalaureate programs, secular private schools, religious private schools, home schooling — all of these and more offer unique approaches to education. Even within these types of schools, different educational teaching philosophies abound. Although some schools unquestionably have better outcomes for students than others, there is not universal agreement about how to measure the quality of any particular school because of the host of factors involved in educating a student. In other words, some schools are likely better than others, but separating good schools from weak ones is difficult.

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October 8, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Winchester: Obama's Gift to the Rich: A Permanent Payroll Tax Holiday

Richard Winchester (Thomas Jefferson),  Obama's Gift to the Rich: A Permanent Payroll Tax Holiday, 48 Val. U. L. Rev. 83 (2013):

President Obama made a concerted effort to enact tax legislation that benefited middle and lower income individuals over the rich. The temporary payroll tax cut in effect during 2011 and 2012 is a case in point. However, many high-income individuals enjoyed an even greater measure of payroll tax relief as a result of legislation that he signed. But instead of being granted directly under the terms of a bill, this relief was made possible because the tax legislation that he signed perpetuated what had been only a temporary incentive for individuals to avoid the payroll tax entirely when they work for a corporation that they also own or otherwise control. Simply put, these individuals can take a payroll tax holiday by substituting a dividend for any wages they could otherwise receive. What’s more, this tax dodge operates in a way that favors the rich far more than anyone else. This tax dodge would have died after Mr. Obama’s second year in office. However, the legislation he signed gave it perpetual life, reinforcing the need to address the multiple defects in the nation’s employment tax system.

October 8, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)