My colleague Fran Hill has an op-ed in today's New York Times, Congress's Charity Cases – New York Times.
Here's a taste:
Why were charities Mr. Abramoff’s go-to vehicles as he sought to transfer funds covertly through Washington’s corridors of power? The primary attraction was their opacity: their ability to raise money in any amount, without limit, from any individual or entity anywhere in the world without disclosing the contributors to anyone.
This makes good sense for honest charities helping people in need. But Mr. Abramoff took advantage of this situation to circumvent campaign finance laws and Congressional ethics rules and provide illicit benefits to powerful politicians.
Gee. Think there just might be a connection between this story in today’s paper,
Tax Cheats Called Out of Control: So many superrich Americans evade taxes using offshore accounts that law enforcement cannot control the growing misconduct, according to a Senate report that provides the most detailed look ever at high-level tax schemes.
and last week’s story,
I.R.S. to Cut Tax AuditorsThe federal government is moving to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans, specifically those who are subject to gift and estate taxes when they transfer parts of their fortunes to their children and others.
Both stories are by David Cay Johnston, but he’s too coy to remind us of the first when writing the second…
There are still several hours in the tax year. It may be too late to emulate my brother and acquire that extra two-legged tax deduction, but it’s not too late to make charitable donations online via Network for Good.
We particular favor Ashoka, Daily Bread Food Bank of Miami, EPIC, Human Rights First (formerly the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights), and the University of Miami H.O.P.E. program (student public interest programs), but there are so many good causes to choose from.
Paul Caron has an interesting post up about a lawsuit by an orthodox Jew seeking the same tax exemption the IRS has given the Scientologists:
A lawyer for an Orthodox Jewish couple claimed Monday that the Internal Revenue Service has violated the First Amendment by refusing to allow tax deductions for their children's religious schooling. The IRS should allow the deductions because it permits members of the Church of Scientology to write off the cost of spiritual counseling sessions, attorney Jeffrey Zuckerman said during the first day of a non-jury trial in U.S. Tax Court before Judge John O. Colvin. The First Amendment prohibits the IRS from discriminating on the basis of religion, Zuckerman said.
Coincidentally, we were talking about this case at lunch before the faculty seminar yesterday. It has all sorts of implications….
Michael Froomkin will be back full-time tomorrow, so this is my last post. I still have a lot of stuff to say on the threads to my posts, however, which I will do over the weekend, so you are not rid of me quite yet.
Thank you all! I learned a lot about stuff and the blogosphere. Thank you Michael! It has been as much work as I expected. I cannot imagine how Michael finds time to blog, maintain this remarkable site (which I had no responsibility for, and which must take up as much time as blogging), and have a life. Amazing….. And Michael just emailed that I should have my own blog….
Well, I have been stalling for weeks on the fundamental issue of international tax policy: As a practical matter, in an open worldwide economy, can one country impose an income tax? There are two sub-issues: First, can a country tax residents (or citizens) on their worldwide income. Here, can the US tax Sue on her foreign surgeries, given that she can move? Second, can one country tax income related to mobile local factors of production? For example, can the US tax the capital of Ford Motor invested in a US factory if Ford can close the factory and move production to low-tax Mexico?