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USA TODAY NETWORK featured Lubin Professor Philip Cohen's piece "America needs respect for tax law and order. Here's why | Opinion"

10/15/2020

USA TODAY NETWORK featured Lubin Professor Philip Cohen's piece "America needs respect for tax law and order. Here's why | Opinion"

Philip G. Cohen is a retired vice president-tax and general tax counsel for Unilever United States, Inc. and is now a professor of Taxation at Pace University's Lubin School of Business. The views expressed herein are his own and don't necessarily represent those of any organization which he is or was associated.

Both President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Joe Biden have signaled federal income tax policy changes are on the table if elected president in November — and each offer markedly different plans.

Their proposals couldn’t be more polar. Trump, for example, has indicated that he would like the corporate tax rate to be even lower than the 21% rate currently in effect, having already been reduced as part of 2017 tax legislation from 35%. He also wants to make permanent taxpayer friendly changes for individuals made by that same 2017 law that are due to expire after 2025. Furthermore, he would like to reduce the tax rate for capital gains for individuals from a top rate of 20% to 15%. 

Given our ballooning budget deficit, these should be non-starters.

Biden’s tax wish list, on the other hand, includes seeking an increase to the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, implementing a minimum 15% tax based on global book income of $100 million or more, and enacting a 10% surtax on companies that send jobs overseas in order to sell products back to the U.S. He also aims to increase the federal income tax owed by individuals with taxable income above $400,000, as well as remove the tax rate preference for capital gains and qualified dividends for those taxpayers with taxable income above $1 million.  Some of these proposals merit consideration although Biden should focus attention to trying to repeal some incredibly complex and unsound international tax changes made as part of the 2017 tax legislation and close some egregious loopholes in our tax laws.

Read the full USA TODAY NETWORK article.

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New York Law Journal featured Haub Law Professors Bridget J. Crawford and Emily Gold Waldman's piece "Tampons and Pads Should Be Allowed at the Bar Exam"

07/23/2020

New York Law Journal featured Haub Law Professors Bridget J. Crawford and Emily Gold Waldman's piece "Tampons and Pads Should Be Allowed at the Bar Exam"

Bar exam takers around the country are facing unprecedented uncertainty. In less than two weeks, thousands of recent law graduates will sit down in hotel ballrooms, convention centers and large classrooms to take the test that they have been training for three (or more years) to take. With little notice, several states have cancelled the bar exam because of COVID-19 health concerns. Some states like New Jersey and Florida announced an online bar exam in lieu of traditional testing that otherwise would require hundreds or thousands of people to crowd into enclosed spaces for several hours a day over a two-day period. Oregon and Utah canceled their exams and granted a “diploma privilege” to allow law graduates to practice without taking the bar exam. New York axed its test just seven weeks before the big day, with no plans for an alternate test administration. Other states, including those where COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise, are going full-speed ahead with plans to administer in-person tests later this month.

Read the full New York Law Journal article.

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The Hill featured Haub Law Professor David N. Cassuto's co-authored piece "Torturing fewer animals will mean burying fewer people"

07/23/2020

The Hill featured Haub Law Professor David N. Cassuto's co-authored piece "Torturing fewer animals will mean burying fewer people"

COVID-19 has killed hundreds of thousands of people, devastated the global economy and left millions jobless, homeless and hopeless. Like COVID-19, 60 percent of viruses that infect humans and 75 percent of recent infectious diseases are “zoonotic,” meaning they originate in animals. 

We’ve dealt with zoonoses in the past — SARS, avian influenza, HIV, Ebola, West Nile, to name a few. COVID-19, also a zoonotic disease, was not unexpected. As scientists race to develop vaccines for each new zoonotic event, the rest of us might well ask why we keep enabling the spread of these diseases. Avoiding future pandemics is possible but it will require an unprecedented cooperative effort to remake and enforce international animal law.

Zoonotic diseases result from human interaction with animals confined in close, unsanitary conditions. It is fashionable to blame China’s live animal markets, but the reality is far more complex. Live markets are brutally cruel, facilitate trafficking in protected species and encourage unsustainable and unhealthy eating practices. They also form a vast, criminal enterprise built on the illegal trade, slaughter and suffering of wild and endangered animals. 

Read the full Hill article.

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Newsday featured President Krislov's piece "College in the fall?"

07/15/2020

Newsday featured President Krislov's piece "College in the fall?"

As New York continues to reopen and its colleges and universities plan for resuming instruction in the fall, college leaders are grappling with a new worry: Will our students come back?

I believe they will.

I'm an optimist because I know our region has been here before: This century, it has been buffeted by the devastation of 9/11, the inundation after Hurricane Sandy, and the collapse caused by the Great Recession.

Each time, we worried that some of our students wouldn’t return — especially our most vulnerable students, those from low-income families or the first in their families to attend college. We were afraid that they thought they couldn’t afford school, that they worried about their safety, or simply that they thought other things were more important in a time of great disruption.

And each time, they returned. Each time, we’ve gotten them back on track with their education. We know how to do it, and we know what’s at stake if they can’t return.

We’ve long known that a college education, especially for vulnerable students, can transform lives. Americans with a college degree will earn 84% more in their lives than those who attained only a high school diploma, according to research from Georgetown University.

Nowhere has this employment divide been more apparent than during the current pandemic. Today, Americans with a college degree are more likely to be able to work remotely from home and more likely to have jobs that can continue despite lockdown measures. The unemployment rate among those with only a high school diploma shot up to 17% last month; for those with a bachelor’s or higher degree, it’s less than half that, at 8.2%.

Keeping students engaged with their education is good for our students, and it’s good for our society, and our economy, which need these well-educated workers. So how do we do that? At Pace, we’ve learned that outreach matters.

Read the full Newsday article.

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USA Today Network featured President Marvin Krislov's piece "Yes, college in the United States is still worth it — and very much so | Opinion"

06/03/2020

USA Today Network featured President Marvin Krislov's piece "Yes, college in the United States is still worth it — and very much so | Opinion"

As America begins to reopen after the COVID-19 lockdown and colleges and universities map out plans for a fall semester that includes socially-distant classrooms, masked dining halls and online options for in-person classes, there’s a growing chorus suggesting that this is the time for incoming or even continuing students to take a year off. College in these conditions isn’t worth it, these skeptics say, and students would get more value from a year of other pursuits.

I disagree.

If anything, the last few months have shown just how critical college is for economic success, especially for those vulnerable students whose lives are most transformed by college.

I know; it’s my job to say that. But it’s also true.

We’ve long known that a college education improves a person’s chances in life. Americans with a college degree will earn 84% more in their lives than those who attained only a high school diploma, according to research from Georgetown University. 

The pandemic has laid bare the advantages that accrue to college graduates. Today, Americans with a college degree are more likely to be able to work from home and more likely to have jobs that can continue despite lockdown measures. The unemployment rate among those with only a high school diploma shot up to 17% last month; for those with a bachelor’s or higher degree, it’s less than half that, at 8.2%. Some 39% of those with a household income under $40,000 lost work, compared to 13% of those in households earning more than $100,000.

College is key to the American dream. A college education opens the doors to new areas of knowledge, to mentors and guides, and to new friends and connections. Those advantages of college are invaluable, especially for those who don’t come from backgrounds that automatically provide those mentors and connections.

Read the full USA Today Network article.

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"Crain's" featured President Marvin Krislov's piece "Opportunity zones should deliver more than profit and tax breaks"

05/29/2019

"Crain's" featured President Marvin Krislov's piece "Opportunity zones should deliver more than profit and tax breaks"

Opportunity zones are a new incentive to direct investment capital into underserved communities that need it. They were created by the federal Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, and 514 census tracts throughout the state have been designated as such by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. All five boroughs of New York City have them, including parts of Chinatown and Harlem and large swaths of the Bronx.

In Queens, waterfront areas such as Long Island City and Astoria are opportunity zones, as are Downtown Brooklyn and parts of South Brooklyn and areas around the ferry terminal and Bayonne Bridge on Staten Island.

Across the country, thousands of communities in or near an opportunity zone could be embarking upon one of the most profound experimental economic programs in generations. Structured correctly, opportunity zone investments can direct billions dollars in private investment toward the kind of new development, skills training and infrastructure upgrades these communities so badly need.

That’s why it’s critical that qualified opportunity funds guiding these investments—the pools of investable money collected and invested in opportunity zone businesses and projects—screen potential projects for their community benefits, not just their potential economic returns.

What might a community benefit screen look like?

Qualified opportunity funds should work with community leaders and longtime community pillars like universities and health centers to connect investors with worthy projects that will yield a positive social impact. They should focus on resource-starved infrastructure projects that benefit local and regional economic ecosystems. And they must avoid projects that increase inequality or drive out longtime residents.

Last summer, for example, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York joined with the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation to develop a formal framework for evaluating potential investments. The principles they outlined include community engagement, equitable community benefits, transparency and measurement so that progress on objectives can be tracked and improved upon.

We would also add other considerations, focused on outcomes:

* Does an investment help locals? Residents of low-income communities often need affordable housing, good jobs, skills training, access to health care and other social services. This must form the basis of projects selected for investment.

* Does an investment build sustainable and resilient infrastructure? This question is often ignored when the time horizon of a project is long. But because an investor must hold an opportunity zone investment for 10 years to reap the maximum tax benefits, we anticipate a shift to longer-term planning.

* Does an investment build intellectual capital? Our country faces big challenges, from the impacts of climate change to employment in the digital age to income inequality. Low-income communities are in many ways least equipped to confront these changes. The opportunity zone program provides a remarkable chance to invest resources that help residents in these areas gain the expertise to adapt.

Critical moments in American history have called for bold action to solve seemingly intractable problems. Opportunity zones can be the kind of transformative program that changes this country for the better while also benefiting investors. What’s needed is a mechanism to ensure it delivers the intended societal gains alongside financial ones. As funding flows into the zones, investors must implement a framework that achieves both investment security and community growth.

The tax law created powerful incentives for investment in underserved communities. The needs are there. It falls to all of us to make sure they are met.

Marvin Krislov is president of Pace University. Al Puchala is CEO of CapZone Impact Investments, a national platform focused on opportunity zone investments.

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