On July 22-23, Washington and Lee School of Law hosted a round table discussion of tax professors from the mid-Atlantic region. Professors from area law schools presented works-in-progress for comment and critique.
Participants included, Eric Chason (William and Mary), Michael Doran (University of Virginia), Michelle Drumbl (W&L), Brant Hellwig (W&L), Ruth Mason (University of Virginia), Gregg Polsky (University of North Carolina), and Ethan Yale (University of Virginia).
The event was sponsored by the Frances Lewis Law Center at W&L.
Washington and Lee School of Law Dean Nora Demleitner has announced the recipients of a number of annual faculty fellowships that recognize excellence in teaching and scholarship.
Prof. Michelle Drumbl directs the Tax Clinic and also teaches courses in Federal Income Tax. She received the Jessine Monaghan Faculty Fellowship for Teaching awarded to “recognize stellar teaching in the third year.”
Prof. Jill Fraley has taught Environmental Law, a new Environmental Practicum, a seminar on Law and Geography, and a small section of Property. She is the recipient of the John W. Elrod Law Alumni Fellowship in Teaching Excellence.
Prof. Brant Hellwig teaches a number of introductory and upper-level specialized tax courses. He is the recipient of a Law Alumni Faculty Fellowship for Teaching.
Christopher Bruner’s book Corporate Governance in the Common-Law World: The Political Foundations of Shareholder Power, published this spring by Cambridge University Press, examines shareholder influence and power that challenges popular wisdom and provides fascinating insights into the uniqueness of U.S. corporate governance. He is the recipient of the Ethan Allen Faculty Fellowship for Scholarship.
Jim Moliterno published his book A Profession in Crisis (Oxford) to great acclaim and also put out a new Civil Procedure book with West, designed to provide a new approach to the teaching of civil procedure in law school. He is the recipient of a Law Alumni Faculty Fellowship for Scholarship.
Ben Spencer continues to be a prolific scholar despite his new duties as director of the Lewis Law Center and Associate Dean for Research. His scholarly work on civil procedure has received increasing acclaim, and his latest article “Class Actions, Heightened Commonality, and Declining Access to Justice” appeared in the Boston University Law Review. He also authored an insightful commentary on the state of legal education in his magnum opus on The Law School Critique in Historical Perspective. He is the recipient of the Law Alumni Faculty Fellowship for Scholarship.
Washington and Lee law professor Brant Hellwig has had one of his articles selected for inclusion on a list of Notable Corporate Tax Articles of 2012. The list was compiled by Karen C. Burke of the University of Florida Levin College of Law and Jordan M. Barry of the University of San Diego School of Law for the purpose of drawing attention to the year’s most thoughtful and insightful articles on corporate tax.
Prof. Hellwig’s article, coauthored with Gregg Polsky (North Carolina), is titled “Examining the Tax Advantage of Founders’ Stock” and was published in in the University of Iowa Law Review. From the abstract:
Recent commentary has described founders’ stock as tax-advantaged because it converts founders’ compensation income into capital gains. In this paper we describe various founders’ stock strategies that offer this character conversion and then analyze whether they are, on the whole, tax advantageous. While the founders’ stock strategies favorably convert the character of the founders’ income, they simultaneously turn the company’s compensation deductions into non-deductions. Whether founders’ stock is tax-advantaged overall depends on whether the benefit of the founders’ character conversion outweighs the cost of the company’s lost deductions. We use various hypothetical to illustrate this tradeoff. We conclude that founders’ stock is likely to be significantly tax-advantaged only in those cases where the start up company shows great promise early on but ultimately never develops into a profitable enterprise.
Even in that subset of cases where founders’ stock turns out to be tax-advantaged, the advantage exists only because of the tax law’s overly harsh treatment of net operating losses. Therefore, whatever tax advantage that exists for founders’ stock is best viewed as a partial move towards the optimal treatment of tax losses, not as a stand-alone tax benefit that needs to be eliminated.
The article is available for download from SSRN.
As noted on the well-known law blog TaxProf, Washington and Lee professors Robert Danforth and Brant Hellwig have published a new edition of Estate and Gift Taxation (LexisNexis). From the blog:
This edition of Estate and Gift Taxation transitions from the temporary estate and gift tax regime that prevailed for the last decade by incorporating the provisions of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 that places the federal wealth transfer tax regime on a permanent footing. In addition to noting these fundamental legislative changes, the book devotes additional coverage to a number of recent estate and gift taxation hot topics, including:
- Defined value transfers and the increasing acceptance of this technique by courts;
- Portability of the unified credit from a predeceasing spouse to a surviving spouse;
- Availability of the gift tax annual exclusion for transfers of restricted beneficial interests in closely held entities; and
- Recent cases examining challenges to the use of family limited partnerships as estate planning vehicles.
Like the first edition of Estate and Gift Taxation published in 2011, the second edition consists of discrete chapters addressing the estate and gift tax regime in a context specific manner (i.e., jointly held property; life insurance; powers of appointment; retained-interest transfers, etc.). Each chapter contains a narrative explanation of the material, with important cases typically summarized rather than reproduced in full. Each chapter closes with a problem set requiring students to apply the relevant doctrine in the context of realistic hypothetical examples. A common technique in the problems is to present students sample trust language and then to ask students to identify tax pitfalls and to suggest drafting solutions around them. The authors provide their suggested answers to the problems in the comprehensive Teacher’s Manual for the second edition, which also will be available in July.
This book is part of the Graduate Tax Series, the first and only series of course materials designed for use in tax LL.M. programs. Like all books in the Series, Estate and Gift Taxation was designed from the ground-up with the needs of graduate tax faculty and students in mind.
You can read more about the Graduate Tax Series at TaxProf.
Several Washington and Lee Law School faculty members presented last week at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS). In addition, David Millon, J. B. Stombock Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law, took the helm as President of SEALS for the 2012-13 term.
In addition to his duties with the organization during the conference, Millon also served as a panelist in a session on how recent Supreme Court decisions and congressional legislation are affecting business and regulatory issues and in a discussion group focused on teaching business law in a new economic environment. Other presentations by W&L faculty included:
- Johanna Bond, who participated in a discussion group on contemporary issues in gender and the law.
- Christopher Bruner, who presented a paper during a panel on recent developments in corporate governance.
- Mark Drumbl, who participated in a discussion group on the growing importance of international matters to legal education.
- Jill Fraley, who presented her research on maps as legal arguments in a new scholars panel.
- Brant Hellwig, who participated in a discussion group on tax reform in 2012.
- John Keyser and Todd Peppers, who participated in a panel on social science and the law.
- J.D. King, who participated in a panel on implicit racial bias in the criminal justice system.
- Joan Shaughnessy, who served as a moderator of a new scholars panel.
- Robin Wilson, who participated in a panel on cutting edge issues in family law.