TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Theft Loss Deductions, Restitution, And Public Policy

Steven Friedell (Rutgers), Confidence Schemes: Theft Loss Deductions, Restitution, and Public Policy, 90 St. John's L. Rev. 25 (2016):

May courts legitimately impose their public policy views to override statutory commands? This article focuses on some of these problems in the field of federal income tax. Part I of the article focuses on theft losses suffered by confidence-scheme victims who thought they would profit from counterfeiting or other illegal activity. Courts usually disallow these deductions so as to discourage illegal activity. This article criticizes this rationale and offers a better one. It suggests that a tax deduction would be contrary to state policy in those situations where states in effect penalize victims by denying them restitution from the thieves. Part II discusses the cases that have denied deductions for fines and civil penalties and explores how these apply to the denial of restitution.

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February 7, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA 'Overwhelmingly' Rejects 75% Bar Passage Requirement

ABA Logo (2016)Following up on yesterday's post, ABA To Vote Today On 75% Bar Passage Requirement:  ABA Journal, ABA House Rejects Proposal to Tighten Bar Pass Standards for Law Schools:

The ABA House of Delegates on Tuesday voted against a proposal to tighten bar passage rate standards for accredited law schools. ...

A storm of criticism has surrounded Standard 316’s proposed revision, which would have required that to meet accreditation standards, 75 percent of a law schools’ graduates must pass a bar exam within a two-year period. ...

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February 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Katherine Magbanua's Murder Trial In Killing Of Dan Markel Is Delayed As Two Inmates Say Alleged Hit Man Sigfredo Garcia Implicated Charlie And Donna Adelson

MagnaubaTallahassee Democrat, Informants' Interviews Force Markel Trial Delay:

Interviews with inmates who spent time with Sigfredo Garcia in the Leon County Jail may corroborate what one of his co-defendants and investigators have said all along about the death of Dan Markel — that Garcia was allegedly recruited by the law professor’s in-laws in a murder for hire plot.

The interviews, with two inmates at the Leon County Jail, reveal that while housed in L Pod, 34-year-old Garcia opened up about the Markel investigation and how he ended up driving to Tallahassee from Miami to allegedly shoot the Florida State legal scholar. ...

Police have asserted that Markel’s former in-laws, chiefly his ex-wife Wendi Adelson’s brother and mother, Charlie and Donna Adelson, were involved in planning and paying to have the legal scholar killed. ... The Adelsons remain suspects in the murder-for-hire plot, said Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman. They have denied any involvement and have not been charged. ...

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February 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

How To Count Citations (If You Must)

EinsteinMotty Perry (Warwick) & Philip J. Rent (Chicago), How To Count Citations If You Must:

Citation indices are regularly used to inform critical decisions about promotion, tenure, and the allocation of billions of research dollars. Nevertheless, most indices (e.g., the h-index) are motivated by intuition and rules of thumb, resulting in undesirable conclusions. In contrast, five natural properties lead us to a unique new index, the Euclidean index, that avoids several shortcomings of the h-index and its successors. The Euclidean index is simply the Euclidean length of an individual’s citation list.

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February 7, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Charlotte Law Students Skewer Administration; Terminated Faculty Lawyer Up

Monday, February 6, 2017

Pratt Presents The IRS's Startling Attempt To Deny Medical Expense Deduction For Cost Of Male-To-Female Transition Today At Pepperdine

Pratt (2016)Katherine Pratt (Loyola-L.A.) presents The Tax Definition of “Medical Care:” A Critique of the Startling IRS Arguments in O’Donnabhain v. Commissioner, 23 Mich. J. Gender & L. 313 (2016), at Pepperdine today as part of our Tax Policy Workshop Series funded in part by a generous gift from Scott Racine:

This Article critiques the startling arguments made by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) in O’Donnabhain v. Commissioner, a case in which the issue was whether a person diagnosed with gender identity disorder (“GID”) could take a federal tax deduction for the costs of male-to-female medical transition, including hormone treatment, genital surgery, and breast augmentation.

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February 6, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Auerbach Presents U.S. Inequality, Fiscal Progressivity, And Work Disincentives Today At NYU

AuerbachAlan Auerbach (UC-Berkeley) presents U.S. Inequality, Fiscal Progressivity, and Work Disincentives: An Intra-generational Accounting (with Laurence Kotlikoff (Boston University) & Darryl Koehler) at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Rosanne Altshuler:

This study combines the 2013 Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances data and the Fiscal Analyzer, a highly detailed life-cycle consumption-smoothing program, to a) measure ultimate economic inequality – inequality in lifetime spending power – within cohorts, b) assess fiscal progressivity within cohorts, c) calculate marginal remaining lifetime net tax rates, taking into account all major federal and state tax and transfer policies, d) evaluate the ability of current income to correctly classify households as rich, middle class, and poor, e) determine whether current-year average net tax rates accurately capture actual fiscal progressivity, and f) determine whether current-year marginal tax rates on labor supply accurately capture actual remaining lifetime marginal net tax rates.

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February 6, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Olson Presents Tax Policy In The New Administration Today At Minnesota

Olson (2017)Pam Olson (PricewaterhouseCoopers) presents Tax Policy in the New Administration at the University of Minnesota Law School Corporate Institute Forum on Taxation and Regulation today as part of its Perspectives on Taxation Lecture Series:

The start of a new presidential administration is always an interesting time for reflecting on tax policy. What are the new administration’s tax policy goals? Where does tax policy fall on the new administration’s list of priorities? What tax legislation might Congress consider?

The Honorable Pam Olson is the U.S. Deputy Tax Leader and Washington National Tax Services Practice Leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, heading a team that includes many former senior government officials and policy advisors. Before joining PwC, she retired from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, where she was the leader of the Washington office tax practice.

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February 6, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Former Dean: ABA Should Deploy SWAT Teams To Rescue Students At Failing Law Schools

ABASWATTaxProf Blog op-ed:  Would Receivership Be Appropriate for a Failing and Malfeasant Law School?, by Rick Bales (Former Dean, Ohio Northern):

As has been much-described elsewhere, the Department of Education has, for a variety of reasons (mostly related to admitting unqualified students and low bar pass rates), cut the ability of Charlotte Law students to qualify for federal student loans. This leaves students in academic purgatory, wondering whether the school will remain open long enough for them to receive their degrees. Many — undoubtedly the most qualified — already have transferred, but given Charlotte’s recent admissions practices, a large percentage of the student population likely lacks any such option. Meanwhile, administrators at Charlotte Law have announced that the school intends to remain open (meaning existing student debt remains extant) but also have submitted a teach-out plan that, as David Frakt points out, is crazy-nuts inadequate (my language, not David’s). Charlotte’s plan to provide “quality assurance” to its students will be run and operated by Florida Coastal – a sister-school in the Sterling Partners for-profit family — a school with numbers almost as dismal as Charlotte’s.

This is grossly unfair to Charlotte students, who likely will be left deeply in debt, with no degree or opportunity to sit for a bar, and several years of their lives wasted. (Indiana Tech students are in much the same boat, and this is not likely the last time we will see this scenario playing out.) Plenty of hand-wringing is occurring in the blogosphere and local press, but notwithstanding ABA sanctions and the DOE slow-bleed of cutting loan access, there doesn’t seem to be an option for direct intervention to stop what seems to me the fairly obvious malfeasance of Charlotte’s administrators and private owners.

Perhaps now’s the time to put some teeth into the Sanctions section of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools by providing for the appointment of an ABA SWAT team that could come in on short notice and either right a sinking ship or create a viable and fair exit plan.

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February 6, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

ABA To Vote Today On 75% Bar Passage Requirement

ABA Logo (2016)Press Release, At Miami Meeting, ABA to Consider Law School Bar Passage Proposal, Myriad of Other Issues:

The American Bar Association House of Delegates, which determines association-wide policy, will consider a proposal to simplify and strengthen the bar passage standard for ABA-accredited law schools at the association’s Midyear Meeting in Miami.

The 589-member House will meet at 9 a.m. on Feb. 6 in the James L. Knight Center (3rd Floor) of the Hyatt Regency Miami. The session will conclude the 2017 Midyear Meeting, which begins Feb. 1.

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February 6, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Graetz:  Business Tax Reforms In The House GOP Blueprint

Michael J. Graetz  (Columbia), The Known Unknowns of the Business Tax Reforms Proposed in the House Republican Blueprint:

This set of slides raises important issues and questions concerning the potential effects of a border-adjusted destination-based cash flow tax (DBCFT) as proposed in the 2016 House Blueprint “A Better Way.” This will form the basis for an article forthcoming in the Columbia Tax Journal. Citations have been omitted here.

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February 6, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sanchirico:  Business Investment In The House GOP Tax Reform Blueprint

Chris William Sanchirico (Pennsylvania), Business Investment in the Tax Reform Blueprint:

November’s election thrust to the fore the tax reform Blueprint released last June by House GOP leaders. One of the plan’s key features, which has received surprisingly little attention, is its treatment of business investment. Outlays for plant, equipment and other business assets would be immediately deductible, rather than depreciated over time, while interest costs would be deductible only to the extent of interest income. This plan to replace net interest deductions with expensing of capital outlays is likely to hurt most businesses — some significantly — and so is likely to face a growing chorus of objections in coming months as this becomes clear to business leaders.

Moreover, claims made about this part of the Blueprint’s positive impact on the economy — that it will reduce distortion and encourage investment — are subject to significant caveats and are, in some cases, contradicted by the conceptual understructure of the plan itself.

February 6, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Tax Implications Of Super Bowl LI

Super BowlForbes, Super Bowl Bet That's A Sure Thing:

It's also almost tax time, and we should all remember who gets a piece of every bet: the IRS. The IRS gets a piece, whether sports betting, rolling the dice, playing cards, or betting on the ponies. All gambling winnings are taxable income in the eyes of the IRS. And the IRS doesn't allow you to automatically reduce your winnings by your losses either. Here are 7 tips for casual gamblers.

Sports Illustrated, The Super Bowl May Be in 'Tax-Free' Houston, But Most of its Players' Pay Will Still be Taxed:

As Super Bowl LI nears, much has been made of Texas being a state without an income tax. The common refrain is that Super Bowl LI is a tax-free Super Bowl.

Not so fast. Taxes have a way of extending far and wide, and that is true for Super Bowl LI.

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February 5, 2017 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

As Law Prof, Gorsuch Banned Laptops, Garnered Respect

Colorado 3

National Law Journal, As Law Prof, Gorsuch Banned Laptops, Garnered Respect:

While pundits across the country parse Neil Gorsuch's record of jurisprudence from his decade on the federal bench, professors and students at the University of Colorado Law School are praising the man they say is decent, fair and highly intelligent — even if they don't agree with his political viewpoints.

Gorsuch, nominated by President Donald Trump to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, has taught as a visiting professor at the Boulder, Colorado, law school since 2008, two years after he was named to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, in Denver. (He lives just outside of Boulder — for now). He has taught legal ethics and professionalism, antitrust law and federal courts, typically handling one course a semester.

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February 5, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

WSJ:  Taming IRS Imperialism

FATCAWall Street Journal editorial, Taming IRS Imperialism: A Foreign Leader Asks President Trump If He Will Keep a Promise:

In the tiny Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the leader of the opposition coalition in parliament, recently did something no other world leader has done: She read the U.S. Republican Party platform.

There she discovered that the GOP had called for repeal of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or Fatca, which is best understood as a license for IRS imperialism. The Treasury Department has used the law to demand that foreign countries change their own laws so their financial institutions report information on their American account holders. Upon discovering the Republican call for Fatca’s repeal, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar wrote Donald Trump in January asking if he will keep this promise.

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February 5, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Bittersweet Sunday At Pepperdine

Today is a bittersweet day.  On the one hand, Pepperdine Law School is losing one of its most important and gifted administrators.  On the other hand, the campus church I attend is gaining an inspiring and powerful leader. Al Sturgeon is leaving his post as Dean of Graduate Programs to become Pastor of University Church of Christ.  

Regular readers of this blog have gotten to know Al a bit through some of his posts, including:

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February 5, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

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 #4 and #5:

  1. [1,833 Downloads]  Problems with Destination-Based Corporate Taxes and the Ryan Blueprint, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan; moving to UC-Irvine) & Kimberly Clausing (Reed College)
  2. [547 Downloads]  A Guide to the GOP Tax Plan — The Way to a Better Way, by David Weisbach (Chicago)
  3. [256 Downloads]  Destination-Based Cash-Flow Taxation: A Critical Appraisal, by Wei Cui (British Columbia)
  4. [205 Downloads]  Important Developments in Federal Income Taxation, by Edward Morse (Creighton)
  5. [201 Downloads]  Accounting for Behavioral Considerations in Business Tax Reform: The Case of Expensing , by Lily Batchelder (NYU)

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

Saturday, February 4, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

ABA Rejects President-Elect's Proposal To Strip All Non-Accreditation Activities From Section Of Legal Education

ABA Logo (2016)Following up on Wednesday's post, ABA President-Elect Seeks To Strip All Non-Accreditation Activities From Section Of Legal Education:  National Law Journal, Changes to ABA Legal Ed Power Structure Blunted:

The American Bar Association has pumped the brakes on a proposal that would weaken the wing of the organization that oversees law schools.

The ABA's Board of Governors on Friday approved the creation of a Commission on the Future of Legal Education, but it did not sign off on the extensive slate of responsibilities that the commission would have under the original proposal from ABA president-elect Hilarie Bass.

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February 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Court Upholds President Trump's Authority To Fire Judges

Tax Court (2017)Battat v. Commissioner, 148 T.C. No. 2 (Feb. 2, 2017):

Ps filed a motion to disqualify all Tax Court Judges and to declare unconstitutional I.R.C. sec. 7443(f), which authorizes the President to remove Tax Court Judges “after notice and opportunity for public hearing, for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office, but for no other cause.”

In the Tax Reform Act of 1969 (1969 Act), Pub. L. No. 91-172, sec. 951, 83 Stat. at 730, Congress deleted from I.R.C. sec. 7441 the designation of the Tax Court as an independent agency within the executive branch. In 1971 we said that under the 1969 Act the Tax Court is no longer within the executive branch. Burns, Stix Friedman & Co. v. Commissioner, 57 T.C. 392 (1971). Ps also adopt the view that the Tax Court is not within the executive branch and contend that, as a result, the President’s limited removal authority violates separation of powers principles. In Kuretski v. Commissioner, 755 F.3d 929 (D.C. Cir. 2014), the Court of Appeals held that the Tax Court is within the executive branch. The following year Congress amended I.R.C. sec. 7441 because of concerns about statements made by the Court of Appeals in Kuretski.

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February 4, 2017 in New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

Charlotte Law School Enrollment Shrinks 62% Since Fall Semester; 2L Hit With Honor Code Violation For Criticizing Administration

Charlotte Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below):, Charlotte School Of Law Enrollment Shrinks; Student Receives Violation Over Email To Administrators:

Charlotte School of Law students are wrapping up their second week back to classes after the Department of Education yanked all federal loans to the school. The school has refused to close and that decision means students can't have their debt forgiven. WFAE's Lisa Worf joins All Things Considered host Mark Rumsey now:

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February 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1367:  White House Mum On Fate Of IRS Boss Koskinen

IRS Logo 2Newsmax, White House Mum on Fate of IRS Boss Koskinen:

The fate of controversial Internal Revenue Commissioner John Koskinen at the hands of President Donald Trump remained uncertain as of Thursday.

At the regular briefing for reporters at the White House, Newsmax reminded Press Secretary Sean Spicer numerous House Republicans recently met with Vice President Mike Pence and urged him to tell the President to sack the controversial IRS boss.

"Had Pence brought their intentions to the president and, if so, what was the fate of Koskinen?" we asked.

"I have nothing to update you on," replied the president's top spokesman.

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February 4, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Weekly Tax Highlight And Roundup: Mary Tyler Moore And The IRS

This week, Joe Kristan (CPA & Shareholder, Roth & Company (Des Moines, Iowa); Editor, Tax Update Blog) reminisces about a 1970 episode of The Mary Tyler Moor Show involving an IRS audit.

The bewitching glamor of the 1970s IRS.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a Saturday night childhood staple in the days of three TV channels. Through the miracle of Amazon, I revisited my 10-year-old viewing habits by downloading an episode from Season 1, 1040 or Fight, in which the heroine gets examined by the IRS.

The fictional tax world of 1970 is a fabulous place. For example, the IRS does evening house calls, scheduling the exam in Mary’s bachelorette pad at 8:03 p.m. The IRS agent shows up right on time with his calculator.


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February 3, 2017 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Erin Scharff (ASU) reviews reviews a new essay by Sas Ansari (Osgoode Hall) and Lorne Sossin (Osgoode Hall), Legitimate Expectations in Canada:  Soft Law and Tax Administration

Scharff (2017)How exactly do non-experts understand tax law, and what is the role of the tax administrator in disseminating information about the law to (non-expert) taxpayers?  These are two critically important questions for tax administration.  While tax lawyers pride themselves on their mastery of the complex, often highly technical language of the Internal Revenue Code, lawyers are typically the last line of defense when it comes to income tax compliance.  Most taxpayers won’t even consult an accountant for tax advice. 

Recent work has brought renewed attention to these questions. For example, Shu-Yi Oei and Diane Ring have explored how Uber and Lyft drivers navigate tax questions, and Josh Blank and Leigh Osofsky have criticized the ways IRS taxpayer publications describe tax law.  

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February 3, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Students At 51 Law Schools Are At Extreme Or Very High Risk Of Failing The Bar Exam

LST Title

Law School Transparency, State of Legal Education: 2017 Update:

In October 2015, Law School Transparency published an investigation into falling enrollment and admissions standards at dozens of law schools. We concluded that a minority of schools made unethical admissions decisions in response to budgetary pressure. ...

The LSAT helps predict what's to come on the bar exam. While individual results vary, students with very low LSAT scores do worse on average on the bar exam than students with middling or high LSAT scores. ...

In 2015, we examined 197 ABA-approved law schools primarily using data from 2010 and 2014. At the time, there were 26 "extreme risk" and 19 "very high" risk schools based on 25th percentile 1L LSAT scores, up from four in each category in 2010. Students in the bottom quartile at these schools face a substantial chance of not completing school or passing the bar. Two years later, with seven additional law schools measured, there are four fewer extreme risk schools (22), but ten more very high risk schools (29). One in four law schools had gone too far in 2016, enrolling large numbers of students likely to fail.  [Students at 51 law schools are at minimal risk of failing the bar exam'.] 


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February 3, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Georgetown Hosts Conference Today On Tax Competition

GUThe Georgetown Institute of International Economic Law (IIEL) and International Tax Policy Forum (ITPF) host a conference today on Tax Competition (program):

Unlike the United States―which currently has the highest statutory corporate tax rate in the developed world―other countries have been lowering corporate tax rates and increasing reliance on consumption taxes. Recently, various multilateral and unilateral efforts to limit income tax competition have reshaped the international tax landscape. In response to these developments, the United States is now considering major tax reforms to restore American competitiveness, such as the destination-based cash flow tax proposed in the House Republican Blueprint.

This conference brings together experts from a variety of backgrounds to share their views on international tax competition and U.S. tax policy. A series of panels will consider the global trend towards consumption taxation, how recent efforts to curtail income tax avoidance interact with tax competition, and the economic effects of international tax competition. The closing panel will consider how the United States should respond.

Panel #1:  BEPS and Tax Competition

  • James R. Hines (Michigan) (moderator)
  • Lilian V. Faulhaber (Georgetown)
  • Michael Smart (Toronto)

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February 3, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

IBM Gives Watson A New Challenge: Your Tax Return

IBMHRNew York Times, IBM Gives Watson a New Challenge: Your Tax Return:

In its first steps toward commercialization, IBM’s Watson took on grand, science-laden challenges like helping doctors diagnose cancer. But that is changing as IBM strives to build its artificial intelligence technology into a multibillion-dollar business.

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February 3, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump Vows To ‘Destroy’ Law Banning Political Endorsements By Tax-Exempt Churches: One of His 'Least Objectionable Policies'?

IRS ChurchNew York Times, Trump Vows to ‘Destroy’ Law Banning Political Endorsements by Churches:

President Trump vowed on Thursday to overturn a law restricting political speech by tax-exempt churches, a potentially huge victory for the religious right and a gesture to evangelicals, a voting bloc he attracted to his campaign by promising to free up their pulpits.

Mr. Trump said his administration would “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law that prohibits churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates at the risk of losing their tax-exempt status.

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February 3, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Thomas Presents Taxing The Gig Economy Today At Duke

Thomas (2017)Kathleen Delaney Thomas (North Carolina) presents Taxing the Gig Economy at Duke today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

Due to advances in technology like mobile applications and online platforms, millions of American workers now earn income through “gig” work, which allows them the flexibility to set their own hours and choose which jobs to take. To the surprise of many gig workers, the tax law considers them to be “business owners,” which subjects them to onerous recordkeeping and filing requirements, along with the obligation to pay quarterly estimated taxes. This Article proposes two reforms that would drastically reduce tax compliance burdens for this new generation of small business owners, while simultaneously enhancing the government’s ability to collect tax revenue.

First, Congress should create a “non-employee withholding” regime that would allow online platform companies such as Uber to withhold taxes for their workers without being classified as employers. Second, the Article proposes a “standard business deduction” for gig workers equal to 80 percent of their gross receipts, which would eliminate the need to track and report business expenses.

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February 2, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kysar Presents Automatic Legislation Today At Indiana

KysarRebecca Kysar (Brooklyn) presents Automatic Legislation at Indiana-Bloomington today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Leandra Lederman:

To compensate for the status quo bias in the legislative process, lawmakers have developed devices that, under certain conditions, provide easier paths to policy refreshment. Procedural mechanisms, like the reconciliation process, may eliminate barriers to legislating (“veto bridges”). Laws may prompt Congress to act through sunset dates or penalties like sequestration or other undesirable policy outcomes (“prompting legislation”). Or the legislative product itself may automatically update without further action by Congress (“automatic legislation”). It is this last, underutilized category, I contend, that best overcomes policy stasis while also avoiding the pathologies presented by the other two. Specifically, automatic legislation is preferable along several different axes: interaction with the administrative state, entrenchment effects, political economic and democratic concerns, and the budget process.

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February 2, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deans Of 20 Of California's 21 ABA-Accredited Law Schools Ask State Supreme Court To Lower Bar Exam Pass Score

California (2016)The Recorder, California Law School Deans Want Bar Exam Pass Score Lowered:

The deans of 20 California law schools on Wednesday asked the state Supreme Court to temporarily lower the bar exam’s minimum passing score to let the State Bar study whether the number is unjustifiably high. [Only UC-Davis Dean Kevin Johnson did not sign the letter.]

The request comes after the pass rate for the summer 2016 test plummeted to 43 percent, the lowest figure for a July sitting in 32 years. First-time test-takers among American Bar Association-accredited schools in California did better—62 percent passed—but still lagged significantly behind their counterparts in other states, including New York, Texas and Ohio.

The deans blame California’s “atypically high” passing score, or cut score, of 144 for the multistate bar exam portion of the test. Only Delaware requires a higher score [145] on its exam. And yet those who took the California exam scored almost three points higher on the multistate bar exam than the national average.

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February 2, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Attorney In IRS Office Of Professional Responsibility (Columbia J.D., NYU Tax LL.M., Georgetown Adjunct Tax Prof) Busted For Dealing Crystal Meth

Will Donald Trump Solve The Law School Crisis?

TrumpNational Law Journal, On the Bright Side, Lawyers Are Suddenly Popular:

If there’s any silver lining to the first 11 days of the Trump administration, it’s this: lawyers are suddenly beloved—at least by the masses who oppose the president’s policies.

It’s impossible to be a member of the bar and not know Shakespeare’s quote from Henry VI: “The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.” Or the endless jokes: How can you tell when a lawyer is lying? His lips move. Why did God invent lawyers? So that real estate agents would have someone to look down on. What's the difference between a jellyfish and a lawyer? One's a spineless, poisonous blob. The other is a form of sea life.

But in recent days, my Twitter and Facebook feeds have been full of a new-found appreciation for attorneys. They’re emerging as the heroes of the Trump resistance. ...

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February 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law School Deans Ask ABA Board Of Governors To Table Discussion Of Changes To Section On Legal Education

AALS (2017)Following up on yesterday's post, ABA President-Elect Seeks To Strip All Non-Accreditation Activities From Section Of Legal Education:  

Letter From AALS Deans Steering Committee to ABA Board of Governors (Feb. 1, 2017):

As a group of law deans charged with considering the national impact of topics affecting law schools, we write to encourage the Board of Governors to table discussion of the "Request to Create Commission on the Future of Legal Education; Request to Separate Non-Accreditation Activities from the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar."

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February 2, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

After 58% Enrollment Decline And 46% Faculty Reduction Through Voluntary Buyouts, Seton Hall Law School Adjusts To 'New Normal'

Seton Hall, As Law School Applications Fall Nationwide, Seton Hall Law Faces 'New Normal':

Kathleen Boozang, a veteran professor at Seton Hall School of Law in Newark, took over as dean of New Jersey's only private law school in 2015 just as the institution was making changes to compensate for declining applications.

Seton Hall Law still had more applications than available seats. But, school officials decided to shrink the incoming class size so the institution could keep up its standards and admit the same quality of students as before.

After 18 months on the job, Boozang told NJ Advance Media that Seton Hall Law is bouncing back with new programs and a renewed mission.

The entire law school field has been struggling. Seton Hall Law's applications dropped from 3,666 in 2009 to 1,609 last year. How is the school doing?

We're doing well. But, you're exactly right. Applications have declined nationally 40 to 45 percent since 2008 and I think a little bit more than that in the New York metropolitan area.

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February 2, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1365:  55 GOP Members Of Congress Ask Trump To Fire Koskinen

IRS Logo 2Letter to President Trump (Jan. 30, 2017):

Dear President Trump,

The consideration of the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in the House in late 2016 was a clear indication that Congress and the American people have no confidence in Commissioner Koskinen or his ability to discharge his duties.

The IRS, through its targeting of citizens for their political beliefs, has forfeited the trust of a free people. The IRS has admitted to improperly targeting conservative groups, delaying applications for tax-exempt status from 2010-2012, with at least 75 groups selected for extra scrutiny. Moreover, in August 2016, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the IRS had yet to demonstrate that officials have definitively ceased targeting conservative groups. The ruling came at the heels of evidence that two targeted conservative groups continued to have delayed applications for tax-exempt status pending at the IRS.

Congressional investigations, hearings, and actions have shown that Commissioner Koskinen misled Congress, obstructed investigations into the IRS, and failed to comply with Congressional subpoenas. Commissioner Koskinen's willful deception and obstructionism has only further eroded any remaining confidence.

Pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7803, you have the authority to remove Commissioner Koskinen. We encourage you to dismiss him in the most expedient manner practicable. Such an action would restore the credibility of our Federal tax authority and the faith the American people have in their Constitutional rights to free speech and association.

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February 2, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Oregon Seeks To Hire A Tax Visitor

Oregon (2017)The University of Oregon School of Law is seeking to hire a tax visitor for one or two semesters for the 2017-18 academic year.  Courses that are likely to be needed are Federal Income Taxation, Business Entity Taxation, and Tax Policy.  Oregon is open to considering applicants at all ranks, including VAPs, tenure-track faculty, and tenured faculty.

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February 1, 2017 in Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (1)

How Donald Trump Can Keep His Campaign Promises, Grow The Economy, Cut Tax Rates, Repatriate Offshore Earnings, Reduce Income Inequality, Keep Jobs In The U.S., And Reduce The Deficit

David S. Miller (Proskauer, New York), How Donald Trump Can Keep His Campaign Promises, Grow the Economy, Cut Tax Rates, Repatriate Offshore Earnings, Reduce Income Inequality, Keep Jobs in the United States, and Reduce the Deficit:

This paper discusses President Trump's tax proposals and the House Republicans' Blueprint, and makes a number of suggestions that would allow President Trump to keep all of his tax policy campaign promises and some others.


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February 1, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

The Case Against Income Tax Exemption For Nonprofits

Michael Fricke (Illinois), The Case Against Income Tax Exemption for Nonprofits, 89 St. John's L. Rev. 1129 (2016):

[T]he time has come to end income tax exemption for nonprofit organizations. The arguments for exempting nonprofits are—and have always been—shaky, at best,12 and there are better methods for achieving our societal goals. Expanding the definition of a business expense and eliminating the income tax exemption for nonprofits would incentivize charitable organizations to use their funds currently instead of propping up their endowments at the expense of their programs.

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February 1, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Call For Tax Papers: Stanford/Yale/Harvard Junior Faculty Forum

Stanford Yale HarvardStanford/Yale/Harvard Junior Faculty Forum: Request For Submissions:

Stanford, Yale, and Harvard Law Schools announce the 18th session of the Junior Faculty Forum to be held at Stanford Law School on June 6-7, 2017 and seek submissions for its meeting.

The Forum's objective is to encourage the work of scholars recently appointed to a tenure-track position by providing experience in the pursuit of scholarship and the nature of the scholarly exchange. Meetings are held each spring, rotating at Yale, Stanford, and Harvard. Twelve to twenty scholars (with one to seven years in teaching) will be chosen on a blind basis from among those submitting papers to present. One or more senior scholars, not necessarily from Yale, Stanford, or Harvard, will comment on each paper. The audience will include the participating junior faculty, faculty from the host institutions, and invited guests. The goal is discourse both on the merits of particular papers and on appropriate methodologies for doing work in that genre. We hope that comment and discussion will communicate what counts as good work among successful senior scholars and will also challenge and improve the standards that now obtain. The Forum also hopes to increase the sense of community among American legal scholars generally, particularly among new and veteran professors.

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February 1, 2017 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA President-Elect Seeks To Strip All Non-Accreditation Activities From Section Of Legal Education

ABA Logo (2016)ABA President-elect Hilarie Bass has submitted this 4-page memorandum requesting that the ABA Board of Governors create a new "Commission on the Future of Legal Education" to assume all of the non-accreditation activities of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.  The accreditation activities would remain the responsibility of a renamed "ABA Section on Accreditation."  The Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has submitted this 4-page memorandum detailing its "concerns" regarding President-elect Bass's proposal.

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February 1, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Reading The Tax Tea Leaves On Judge Gorsuch

GorsuchTax Foundation, Potential Supreme Court Nominees on State Taxes and Interstate Commerce:

Judge Gorsuch appears to share Justice Scalia’s criticism of the Dormant Commerce Clause. He acknowledges Supreme Court precedent on the Dormant Commerce Clause but refuses to expand its breadth.

Bloomberg BNA, Trump Picks Scalia-Like Neil Gorsuch for High Court Seat:

An appointment of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court could benefit taxpayers through a narrower reading of the tax code and further limit the IRS’s rulemaking leeway when the agency is already defending anti-corporate inversion and transfer pricing rules that were arguably not authorized by the tax code.

“No question about it, Gorsuch is a take-the-language-of-the-statute-seriously kind of guy regardless of the policy,” Steve Johnson, a tax law professor at Florida State University College of Law, told Bloomberg BNA. “Gorsuch isn’t big on legislative history or policy intent, and he tends to find statutes more clear than others might,” he added.

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February 1, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

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February 1, 2017 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Joint Tax Committee Releases Tax Expenditure Estimates For 2016-2020

Joint Tax Committee (2016)

Joint Committee on Taxation, Estimates of Federal Tax Expenditures for Fiscal Years 2016-2020 (JCX-3-17):

Tax expenditure analysis can help both policymakers and the public to understand the actual size of government, the uses to which government resources are put, and the tax and economic policy consequences that follow from the implicit or explicit choices made in fashioning legislation. This report on tax expenditures for fiscal years 2016-2020 is prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (“Joint Committee staff”) for the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance. The report also is submitted to the House and Senate Committees on the Budget.

As in the case of earlier reports, the estimates of tax expenditures in this report were prepared in consultation with the staff of the Office of Tax Analysis in the Department of the Treasury (“the Treasury”). The Treasury published its estimates of tax expenditures for fiscal years 2015-2025 in the Administration's budgetary statement of February 9, 2016. The lists of tax expenditures in this Joint Committee staff report and the Administration's budgetary statement overlap considerably; the differences are discussed in Part I of this report under the heading “Comparisons with Treasury.”

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February 1, 2017 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Using College Completion Data To Assess The Law School Pipeline

Access GroupTiffane Cochran & India Heckstall (Access Group Center for Research & Policy Analysis), From the Bachelor's to the Bar: Using College Completion Data to Assess the Law School Pipeline:

The story of declining law school applications is well known among the legal education community. Over 100,000 individuals applied to law school for admission in fall 2004, but demand for legal education has since declined — only 54,000 applicants sought admission in fall 2015. The Access Group Center for Research & Policy Analysis® examined college completion data to determine whether undergraduate interest in fields most popular among law school applicants has also waned in recent years. In particular, this research brief summarizes bachelor’s degree completion in the top 10 law school feeder majors over the last 10 years, and compares degree production in these fields to those in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

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February 1, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

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February 1, 2017 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Shaheen Presents Treaty Aspects Of The McDonald's State Aid Investigation Today At Georgetown

Shaheen (2017)Fadi Shaheen (Rutgers) presents Treaty Aspects of the McDonald's State Aid Investigation at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John Brooks and Itai Grinberg:

On December 3, 2015, The European Commission decided to initiate an official investigation into whether Luxemburg has selectively granted McDonald’s advantageous tax treatment in breach of EU state aid rules. The Commission’s decision is based on its conclusion that Luxembourg’s treaty-based exemption of the income attributable to the U.S. branch of a McDonald’s Luxembourgian subsidiary is contrary to the Luxembourg-U.S. treaty because that income was not taxable in the United States. This paper demonstrates that while the Commission’s conclusion and recourse to conflicts of qualification principles are correct, both the Commission’s reasoning on the one hand and Luxembourg’s and McDonald’s position on the other hand misapply the treaty.

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January 31, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)