Category Archives: Law: Tax

Tax Law and Airline Baggage Checking Fees

In Why The Tax Code Encourages American Airlines to Award Bonus Miles for Checking Bags in Boston View from the Wing explains how the tax code encourages airlines to add fees to base ticket prices rather than bundle prices like cable TV companies do.

I guess this means we have to start taxing baggage checking fees?

[Edited shortly after original posting for clarity.]

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Politicizing the IRS is a Political Cancer Symptom

The NYT reports that the admonistration is manipulating the IRS for political gain: I.R.S. Going Slow Before Election,

The commissioner of internal revenue has ordered his agency to delay collecting back taxes from Hurricane Katrina victims until after the Nov. 7 elections and the holiday season, saying he did so in part to avoid negative publicity.

The commissioner, Mark W. Everson, who has close ties to the White House, said in an interview that postponing collections until after the midterm elections, along with postponing notices to people who failed to file tax returns, was a routine effort to avoid casting the Internal Revenue Service in a bad light.

Except that it isn’t routine at all: “four former I.R.S. commissioners, who served under presidents of both parties, said that doing so because of an election was improper and indefensible.”

Kudos to David Cay Johnston for doing a little fact checking.

Nixon politicized the IRS. Are there any bad habits of Nixon’s left that we haven’t seen in this lot? (Not to mention all their newly-minted bad habits.)

There is a cancer on the Presidency. And this is one of its many symptoms.

Posted in Law: Tax, Politics: The Party of Sleaze | 2 Comments

Fran Hill on Abramoff and Sham Charities

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.

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Connect the Tax Cheat Dots (Since the New York Times Won’t)

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…

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It’s Not Too Late to Give

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.

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First They Rebated the Scientologists, Next…

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….

Posted in Law: Tax | 2 Comments