Professor Plecnik Quoted in Tax Notes

Professor John Plecnik  was quoted in Tax Notes on January 15, regarding Congress’s move to increase penalties for improperly claimed refundable tax credits.
Professor Plecnik’s quotes are reproduced below, and the full article is available here (Plecnik Quoted in Tax Notes 1.15.16).
Adding to those risks is the 2016 appropriations act’s overturning of the Tax Court’s decision in Rand v. Commissioner, 141 T.C. No. 12 (2013) (Doc 2013-26619), according to John Plecnik, a Cleveland State University law professor. In Rand, a divided court held that the determination under section 6664(a)(1)(A) of the amount shown as tax on the return by the taxpayer should account for refundable credits claimed on the return, but should not reduce the amount shown as tax to less than zero, Plecnik said. The IRS had taken the position that the amount shown as tax should be the tax after credits. (Prior coverage (Doc 2014-4830).)

The appropriations act applies accuracy-related and fraud penalties to the full amount of disallowed refundable credits, like the additional child tax credit, Plecnik said. As an example, he said if an income tax return showed a total tax due of $ 100, but improperly claimed a refundable credit of $ 1,000, only $ 100 of that credit would be treated as an underpayment subject to penalty under Rand, but under the law change the entire $ 1,000 credit is subject to penalty. And the IRS has already issued Chief Counsel Notice 2016-004 (Doc 2015-28551) to instruct its personnel to apply the accuracy-related and fraud penalties to the full amount of disallowed refundable credits, he noted.

Also, the legislation’s extension of section 32(k) penalties to improper claims of the child tax and American opportunity tax credits now means taxpayers are penalized twice for the same conduct, Plecnik said: the ban, plus significant monetary penalties under sections 6662 and 6663.

“As soon as Congress arms the IRS with a new tool, they are quick to use it,” he said. “There is no question that refundable credits are a bigger and bigger target for heightened tax penalties and enforcement. Congress and the IRS have made the apparent decision to crack down on improperly claimed refundable credits with more and more penalties, rather than looking to improved internal procedures for paying out these credits or taxpayer education.”


Professor Kerber Participates in Judge4Yourself Interviews of Judicial Candidates


Professor Sandra Kerber

Professor Sandra Kerber recently participated in Judge4Yourself interviews of judicial candidates running in the March 15, 2016 Ohio Primary Election. The candidates’ ratings are due to be released soon and are based on  their answers to the comprehensive questionnaire that is used to vet their respective judicial qualifications.

Professor Robertson Participates in CMBA Panel on Home Rule and Preemption in Ohio

On December 9, 2015, Professor Heidi Gorovitz Robertson, Steven W. Percy Distinguished Professor of Law, was a panelist at the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association.  The panel, Home Rule and Preemption in Ohio, was a joint program of the CMBA’s Environmental Law and Local Government Law sections.  The panel was organized by CM Law alumnus, Carter Strang (Tucker Ellis), and in addition to Professor Robertson included the past Chair of the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission and the General Counsel for the City of Broadview Heights.

Professor Robertson Presents at AALS; Is Elected Officer of Natural Resources and Energy Law Section

Heidi Gorovitz Robertson-1

Professor Heidi Gorovitz Robertson

Heidi Gorovitz Robertson, Steven W. Percy Distinguished Professor of Law, was a panelist on the 2016 AALS Annual Meeting Arc of the Career series panel, The AALS In Spite of Itself: How to Use the AALS for Professional Development Even If It Sometimes Makes You Mad, with former CM Law Professor David V. Snyder (American) and others.  In addition, Professor Robertson was appointed to the Executive Committee of the AALS section on Natural Resources and Energy Law, and elected that section’s Treasurer.

Professor Geier Updates Free E-Textbook on Federal Income Taxation


Professor Geier’s E-Textbook


Professor Deborah Geier‘s updated free e-textbook for use in the first Federal Income Tax course is now available at Pdf and Word formats can be downloaded immediately, and e-reader versions for iPads and Kindles can be downloaded by January 15. “U.S. Federal Income Taxation of Individuals 2016” is fully updated to incorporate changes in law through December 2015, including the so-called extenders legislation enacted in mid-December and the 2016 rate tables, standard deduction, and personal exemption deduction. A Teacher’s Manual is available for professors who use the textbook in their tax course.

Professor Sterio Presents at AALS Annual Meeting; Is Elected Officer of International Law and International Human Rights Law Sections; Participates in United Nations Field Trip with Professor Majette

Professors Majette and Sterio

Professor Gwendolyn Majette (on the right) and Professor Milena Sterio, at the United Nations, during the 2016 AALS International Law Section Field Trip

Professor and Associate Dean Milena Sterio moderated a panel at the 2016 AALS Annual Meeting in New York City on January 8, entitled “Human Rights and Families.”  The program was organized by the AALS International Human Rights Law Section.  In addition, at the same conference, Professor Sterio spoke as a panelist at an AALS Discussion Group entitled “Increasing Author Diversity in Legal Scholarship: Individual and Institutional Strategies” on January 9.  Finally, Professor Sterio and Professor Gwendolyn Majette both participated in the AALS International Law Section field trip on January 7 to the United Nations building.


At the AALS Annual Meeting, Professor Sterio was elected Chair of the International Human Rights Law Section and Secretary of the International Law Section.

Professor Kalir Presents on the Relation between Spirituality and Politics

Clinical Professor of Law Doron Kalir was recently invited to St. Paul Church in Cleveland Heights to speak about the relation between spirituality and politics. His talk focused on Old Testament text and some founding American constitutional documents, which together – one hopes – may bridge the gap that currently exists between the two realms.

Professor Kalir Completes Six Lectures on the Philosophy of Jewish Faith

Doron Kalir

Clinical Professor Doron Kalir

Clinical Professor of Law Doron Kalir recently completed a six-lecture series on the philosophy of Jewish faith at Congregation B’nai-Jeshurun, one of the largest conservative synagogues at Cleveland. The series touched on the sources of the Jewish faith, its fundamental texts, and the tools it may provide for dealing with today’s world.

Professor Mead Challenges Akron’s Anti-Panhandling Ordinance

Professor Mead has threatened a lawsuit against the City of Akron unless the City immediately repeals its anti-panhandling ordinance.  Under Akron’s ordinance, individuals who are soliciting donations are required to obtain a license from the City, are banned from asking for donations after dark, and are prohibited from soliciting in various public spaces throughout the city.  In a letter and supporting memorandum sent to the Mayor and City Council, available here, Professor Mead explains how these restrictions unconstitutionally discriminate against charitable solicitation and violate the First Amendment right to communicate one’s needs.

These arguments build on Professor Mead’s publication, The First Amendment Protection of Charitable Speech, which was published last year in the Ohio State Law Journal Furthermore.  Professor Mead has a joint appointment with the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, and is handling this matter in connection with the ACLU of Ohio.