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Agenda Circulated For April 25th Standards Review Committee Meeting

Best Practices in Legal Education - mer, 2014-04-16 23:29
As readers to this blog know from earlier posts, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar completed almost all of its work on comprehensive review at its meeting held on March 14-15, 2014. Importantly, the proposed changes  incorporate identification and assessment of student learning outcomes into the Standards.  In […]
Catégories: Legal Education Blogs

“Don’t Skimp on Legal Training” NYT Editorial by Chemerinsky & Menkel-Meadow

Best Practices in Legal Education - mar, 2014-04-15 08:08
CHECK THIS OUT: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/15/opinion/dont-skimp-on-legal-training.html?emc=edit_th_20140415&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=40366743Filed under: Uncategorized
Catégories: Legal Education Blogs

Clinical Law Review Workshop – Registration deadline is June 30, 2014

Best Practices in Legal Education - lun, 2014-04-14 11:18
The Clinical Law Review will hold its next Clinical Writers’ Workshop on Saturday, September 27, 2014, at NYU Law School.   The Workshop will provide an opportunity for clinical teachers who are writing about any subject (clinical pedagogy, substantive law, interdisciplinary analysis, empirical work, etc.) to meet with other clinicians writing on related topics to […]
Catégories: Legal Education Blogs

From the NYT: Lessons for International Tax from Oregon's Role as Sales/Use Tax Haven

Allison Christians blog - dim, 2014-04-13 18:51
Today's NYT has an article entitled "Buyers Find Tax Break on Art: Let it Hang Awhile in Oregon." The artful dodge is accomplished via simple arbitrage between a source, an intermediary, and a residence jurisdiction, so the story gives a nice illustration of a phenomenon we see play out on the international stage every day, only we have generally been taught to associate tax avoidance arbitrage with the likes of GE, Google, Apple, etc. Here is the simple pattern:
  1. The collector lives in state A (the residence state)--in this example, California. 
  2. The collector buys an expensive work of art in state B (the source state), in this case, New York. As the source state, state B could extract a tax purely on the occurrence of the sale, but chooses not to, rather basing its sales tax on place of use. 
  3. State A generally imposes use taxes on items purchased from outside the state and brought into the state (this is to treat external sales the same as internal ones, which would be subject to sales taxes). But there is an exception: if an item is "used" in another state first, it is not subject to the use tax when it finally makes its way to state A.
  4. To avoid the use tax, the collector can't keep the item in state B because then state B's sales tax will apply.
  5. In comes state C, with no sales or use tax, in this case, Oregon. State C is a safe haven. Collector parks the asset in state C long enough to satisfy the residence state's exemption. 
  6. Hey presto, neither sales nor use tax. 
Nothing illegal has occurred, as the NYT is very quick to point out. But it is also clear that this is a story for a reason, and the reason suggested by the headline is this outcome produces unfairness. 
After all, these are rich people dodging around helpless tax states with the help of sophisticated tax planners. This seems worth examining further given the parallels to corporate social responsibility and international tax planning à la Caterpillar as we have seen recently in the news, and in light of the actions of some states to try to curb international tax planning ... and please do not let it escape notice that this list includes Oregon. 
Let's identify a few problems and a few solutions in the overall tax regime created by the conflicting rules in the three independent states as suggested above. The problems seem to be:
  1. residents of state A will likely object that it is not fair for state A to tax sales occurring in the state and not sales occurring outside the state (violates horizontal equity).
  2. some residents of state A will likely object that it is not smart to tax sales occurring in the state and not sales occurring outside the state (people will react accordingly and the sales tax base will disappear). 
  3. on the other hand, some residents of state A will argue it is smart to do this because it means more people will buy nice things and ultimately bring them into the state C, causing other spillover benefits in the long run. (If so we should question why state A has a use tax at all.)
  4. state A cannot control either state B or state C but unless strict capital or other regulatory controls are applied against state A's population, state A's rules necessarily interact with B and C.
  5. residents of state B might object that it is not fair for state B to tax sales only if the assets purchased stay in the state and not if they leave the state (violates horizontal equity)
  6. on the other hand residents of state B will likely view it as smart for state B to tax sales only if the assets purchased stay in the state and not if they leave the state, because then more sales will occur in state B and with those sales come jobs and other spillover benefits.
  7. state C just doesn't tax these things and so would seem to be neutral, acting without fault in the arbitrage.
  8. state C residents likely view this neutrality as smart because the state benefits by facilitating the arbitrage between states A and B, and it can be expected to defend this benefit.
  9. but what is smart for either states B or C or both creates an unqualifiedly unfair situation in state A.
So much for the problems. Are there solutions?  Again the illustration is enlightening.
  1. A, B, and C could get together and demand a federal regulation to stop the arbitrage amongst the states. They could, but they won't (cooperation fails).
  2. State A could threaten states B and C to stop facilitating the arbitrage or else (coercion). But what, exactly, does state A want? Does it want to force state B to tax on the basis of source? Does it want state C to tax as the conduit? Either of those would produce fairness in that the individuals would pay tax somewhere, but in neither case would it be state A collecting the tax. Also, depending on state C's political, economic, and social power relative to state A, the strategy could yield results, or not; certainly if harsh tactics are used, state A will be resented by its neighbors, and for what? No revenue, but a globally fairer system that neither B nor C wanted.
  3. State A could change its own law to repeal the first use rule, which would eliminate the benefit of the arbitrage. No more icing on the cake per the collector routing through Oregon. (when people say tax planning is icing on the cake as the person did in this article, I picture a tiny cake with a tower of icing. So much icing that by the time you eat it all, there isn't any room for cake. But I digress.)
Now does it not seem that state A has the most power to fix the situation if it chooses to change its own law to nullify the arbitrage? Is this not what Oregon and other states are doing vis à vis the foreign earnings of state-registered companies?
This is what I am talking about when I say that tax avoidance is as much a supply side as a demand side problem. We can blame states B and C all day long for facilitating tax avoidance. But State A often holds the power to solve the problem itself. If state A does not do that, then we should be looking at why state A does not do that rather than why state B or state C stand by and allow or encourage and benefit from the arbitrage. Are democratic decisions being made to ignore the fairness problem in order to achieve a solution some people in state A consider to be smart, and if they are doing so, who are those people who think this is smart and have the people in state A who do not think it is so smart been allowed access to lawmaking in the same manner and capacity of those who do think it is smart?
Note that in this case there is no discussion about the problem of information asymmetry--that is, we are not looking at state B or C hiding the fact of the sale from state A. That is a different problem which state A might not be able to solve on its own (actually I believe it could but that is another story). But in terms of legal tax avoidance, I think this story is a wonderful illustration of the argument I often make, for example here and here, about who we should be looking to when facilitating legal tax avoidance becomes the central defining characteristic of a tax regime created by the interaction of multiple jurisdictions.
Thanks, New York Times, for inadvertently covering international tax policy in a fun story with pictures and even a graphic.

Call for Papers: Tax Justice & Human Rights Symposium, McGill, June 2014

Allison Christians blog - mar, 2014-04-01 20:17
We invite paper proposals for a Tax Justice and Human Rights Research Collaboration Symposium, to be held at the McGill Faculty of Law, Montreal, Quebec, from Wednesday to Friday, 18-20 June 2014.
The symposium will explore the fundamental connections between taxation and human rights by providing a forum for collaboration among students/emerging scholars, academics, civil society organization representatives, tax justice advocacy groups, tax policy makers, and researchers from around the world. The symposium seeks especially to bring developing-world perspectives into the discourse and to foster scholarly work for dissemination both within and beyond the academic setting.The plurality of experience, in terms of training, background, country of origin, and area of expertise, will ensure that discussions and activities at the conference will have real-world impact. Indeed, there is a need within the tax-policy world for more cross-pollination between academic researchers and on-the-ground decision-makers. The connections and networking that we envision will take place at this conference should allow for meaningful discussions for years to come.Paper proposals must be between 300-500 words in length and should be accompanied by a short résumé.Please submit your proposal to the conference convener Professor Allison Christians, at [allison dot christians at mcgill dot ca].Deadline for submissions: 30 April 2014. Successful applicants will be notified in early May 2014.An initial 3-5 page sketch of the paper must be submitted by the end of May for circulation among panelists and feedback from the conference committee, but completed papers are not required; rather, we seek a readiness to collaborate and develop new heuristics for thinking about taxation and human rights. Conference fees for presenters will be covered by the conference organizers; travel and accommodation bursaries may be available to scholars and tax justice advocates from the Global South in connection with support from the Tax Justice Network, Canadians for Tax Fairness, Halifax Initiative, and other partners.Please visit the Symposium's page on the Stikeman Chair in Tax Law website for more information. 

Avoidance, Evasion, and Taxpayer Morality

Allison Christians blog - mar, 2014-04-01 15:06
In light of the current sacrificing of Caterpillar on the altar of political posturing by lawmakers who are ultimately responsible for designing a global system that ensures US multinationals a world of tax-favorable opportunities, my latest SSRN post, Avoidance, Evasion and Taxpayer Morality appears à propos. It explores the difficult terrain we traverse when, confronted with the parade of household names apparently paying little or no taxes anywhere, we start talking about ethics and morality instead of law. Abstract:
In popular discourse, tax evasion by wealthy individuals is conflated with tax avoidance by multinational corporations to tell a single story about tax dodging and its negative impact on society. But conflating avoidance and evasion muddies the tax policy waters in important ways by turning legal obligations into moral ones. This Essay, prepared in connection with the Washington University School of Law colloquium on “Conceptualizing a New Institutional Framework for International Taxation,” makes the case for caution in using morality as a stop-gap measure to avoid drawing a regulated line between tax evasion and tax avoidance, while still meting out punishment within the undefined space between these two poles. It acknowledges the political gains derived from the rhetoric of morality but argues that the alternate view — that taxpayer behavior must ultimately be managed by law rather than social sanction — has the best chance of driving tax policy toward greater coherence in the long run because it makes the best case for more transparency in both lawmaking and the consequences of legislative decisions.As always I welcome comments.

LegalED Igniting the Law Conference April 4th @ American University Washington College of Law

Best Practices in Legal Education - mer, 2014-03-26 16:05
At our first conference this upcoming Friday we are featuring over 30 law professors from the United States who will be presenting in TEDx styled talks. Here is a link to our impressive speaker list: http://legaledweb.com/igniting-law-teaching-conference-speakers Here is some more information about our vision for LegalED and our conference: Unlike MOOCs, where one professor teaches […]
Catégories: Legal Education Blogs

Proposed Legislation will Shine More Light on Lobbying, Self-Dealing in Congress

Allison Christians blog - dim, 2014-03-23 15:02
Last week, US Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) introduced the Transparency in Government Act of 2014, a bill "to amend the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, the Rules of the House of Representatives, the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, and the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 to improve access to information in the legislative and executive branches of the Government, and for other purposes." I am always worried about those other purposes, because funny things tend to get slipped into law this way, but the bill is interesting.

Government Executive Oversight calls it "a grab-bag transparency bill" that would "use technology to boost public oversight of program spending, standardize agency reporting on use of the Freedom of Information Act, shed greater light on lobbying and add new requirements for judges to disclose financial investments," as ell as "toughen online disclosure requirements for lawmakers’ personal finances, office expenses, gift reports and foreign travel." All that sounds like it is worth doing.

I especially like the idea of putting completed FOIA requests online, but would like to see the law go even further: if it's FOIAble it ought to be automatically disclosed and available to the public, not have to wait for individuals to file applications. I realize that this presents administrative costs but FOIA is a constructed barrier that unnecessarily imposes costs on individuals to release information that is of public benefit. If a government is producing thousands of pages of ultimately public documents I don't see why the individual must be forced to compel publicity in the vast majority of cases; the opposite should be true.

The other main part of the bill is its attempt to make public officials more honest about their backroom dealings, including politicking and rule changing.

Finally it's about time for another attempt to stop Congress from inside trading after they "quietly" undid the 2012 Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act which was meant to curb this behavior. Congress, it seems, was worried that transparency would expose members to identity theft. This is something that Congress worries about a lot when it comes to themselves but seems incapable of determining how to stop when it comes to those not in Congress.

It is nice to see at least one Congress person push for transparency and accountability in Congress, but given past experience there is unfortunately all too much room for doubt that any reforms will stick even if they pass. I always hope to be proven wrong in this skeptical view.






Scott Wilkie: Next Wednesday at McGill Law

Allison Christians blog - dim, 2014-03-23 14:34
I am very pleased to be hosting international tax guru Scott Wilkie at McGill Law next Wednesday, where he will deliver a talk on current topics in international taxation, more info here. The talk is scheduled to commence at 12:30 pm; members of the public are warmly welcomed.

Location: McGill Faculty of Law, 3644 Peel Street,
Old Chancellor Day Hall, Room 16.

Date and Time: Wednesday, 26 March, 12:30–14:00.

This event is free and open to the public.

taxpolblog: RT @StephenAtHome: If you're doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide from the giant surveillance apparatus the government's been hidi…

@TaxPolBlog - mar, 2013-06-11 14:24
taxpolblog: RT @StephenAtHome: If you're doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide from the giant surveillance apparatus the government's been hidi…

taxpolblog: RT @ITVLauraK: Whoops - hedge fund boss, Davide Serra, snapped going into Downing St with papers on display...shows discussions about RBS +…

@TaxPolBlog - mar, 2013-06-11 14:24
taxpolblog: RT @ITVLauraK: Whoops - hedge fund boss, Davide Serra, snapped going into Downing St with papers on display...shows discussions about RBS +…

LAWMcGill: RT @zpaikin: .@McGillU Prof. René Provost beginning his talk at the #migs2013 conference on genocide in int'l law. http://t.co/J9IdX4oFdp

@LawMcGill - mar, 2013-06-11 13:39
LAWMcGill: RT @zpaikin: .@McGillU Prof. René Provost beginning his talk at the #migs2013 conference on genocide in int'l law. http://t.co/J9IdX4oFdp
Catégories: Twitter aggregator

LAWMcGill: RT @DeanJutras: Prof. Kong and Prof. Moyse receive tenure. IP, public law and students @LAWMcGill are in good hands for the next 30 years!

@LawMcGill - mar, 2013-06-11 11:58
LAWMcGill: RT @DeanJutras: Prof. Kong and Prof. Moyse receive tenure. IP, public law and students @LAWMcGill are in good hands for the next 30 years!
Catégories: Twitter aggregator

LAWMcGill: Call for conference proposals - The Legalization of Culture and the Enculturation of Law http://t.co/LxiFWLDVwI

@LawMcGill - mar, 2013-06-11 11:26
LAWMcGill: Call for conference proposals - The Legalization of Culture and the Enculturation of Law http://t.co/LxiFWLDVwI
Catégories: Twitter aggregator

LAWMcGill: MT @McGillLib: Survey on how the McGill Library web site could be improved to make it more useful to you https://t.co/7LF4JJgvb3

@LawMcGill - mar, 2013-06-11 10:55
LAWMcGill: MT @McGillLib: Survey on how the McGill Library web site could be improved to make it more useful to you https://t.co/7LF4JJgvb3
Catégories: Twitter aggregator

IP_policy: RT @ipwatch: WTO members confirm LDCs have 8 more years to enforce intellectual property rights under TRIPS. IP-Watch story to come.

@IP_Policy - mar, 2013-06-11 10:11
IP_policy: RT @ipwatch: WTO members confirm LDCs have 8 more years to enforce intellectual property rights under TRIPS. IP-Watch story to come.
Catégories: Twitter aggregator

LAWMcGill: RT @DeanSossin: @DeanJutras Federation is fortunate to have your insights on legal education - something tells me we should fasten our seat…

@LawMcGill - mar, 2013-06-11 09:18
LAWMcGill: RT @DeanSossin: @DeanJutras Federation is fortunate to have your insights on legal education - something tells me we should fasten our seat…
Catégories: Twitter aggregator

LAWMcGill: RT @McGillU: Criminalizing sex work increases rather than reduces harm. Op-ed by @LAWMcGill's @angelarcampbell http://t.co/CaXskLGUnK | @to…

@LawMcGill - mar, 2013-06-11 08:58
LAWMcGill: RT @McGillU: Criminalizing sex work increases rather than reduces harm. Op-ed by @LAWMcGill's @angelarcampbell http://t.co/CaXskLGUnK | @to…
Catégories: Twitter aggregator

LAWMcGill: RT @DeanJutras: Congrats to Prof. Shauna Van Praagh @LAWMcGill! A gifted, passionate teacher is the the new president of the Cdn Assoc of L…

@LawMcGill - mar, 2013-06-11 08:58
LAWMcGill: RT @DeanJutras: Congrats to Prof. Shauna Van Praagh @LAWMcGill! A gifted, passionate teacher is the the new president of the Cdn Assoc of L…
Catégories: Twitter aggregator

taxpolblog: RT @glynmoody: The morning after the weekend the Big Data bubble burst - http://t.co/uGD9OvdZ49 nice analysis #prism

@TaxPolBlog - mar, 2013-06-11 06:26
taxpolblog: RT @glynmoody: The morning after the weekend the Big Data bubble burst - http://t.co/uGD9OvdZ49 nice analysis #prism

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