So Long, Farewell …

going out of business

I apparently started this blog almost exactly three years ago, talking about Rand Paul and the Marketplace Fairness Act (which has still not passed). Since then, I’ve posted another 39 posts (40, if you count this one).

It turns out, it’s really hard to maintain a solo tax blog. Or, at least, it was hard for me. Which is why, earlier this week, a number of tax academics launched The Surly Subgroup, a group tax blog.

In light of that, I’ll be shifting my tax blogging over there; I expect to post at least as frequently there as I did here (and maybe even more frequently!), but there, we’ll have more high-quality content to enjoy. That’s not to say this blog is done—I may do things here in the future for all I know, but in the meantime, please read my surly self-introduction there!

And thanks for reading!

Justice Scalia’s Tax Decisions

Antonin_Scalia_Official_SCOTUS_PortraitIn the aftermath of his death, lots of people have written a lot of analysis, commentary, and conspiracy about Justice Antonin Scalia. It’s hard to overstate his influence on Supreme Court jurisprudence or on constitutional analysis. And it’s hard to overstate the virtuosity of his written opinions—whether you agree or not, they’re thoughtful, consistent, and they explode with the sheer joy of language. In a genre not always known for being fun to read, Scalia’s opinions were often fun to read.

And yet, while I’m aware of his judicial and constitutional philosophies, his opinions have had little direct application to my professional life. I decided to take a look at his tax opinions.  Continue reading

Powerball!!!1!

PowerballSince everybody else is talking about it, I figure I might as well, too.

Powerball. It’s offering a record-breaking $1.5 billion payday if you (and you alone) win. (Of course, to get the $1.5 billion, you have to take it over 30 years; otherwise, you can choose a $930 million lump-sum payment.)

I don’t plan on talking about the futility of winning, or whether you should play. I’d rather talk about the taxes that the lucky winner will end up paying.  Continue reading

Exonerees, Complexity, and the Tax Law

Innocentproject.21In 2014, at least 125 convicts were exonerated, a significant uptick from previous years.

Two-thirds of exonerees receive some sort of compensation from the state as a result of their imprisonment. In fact, thirty states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government all have statutory compensation schemes for the exonerated. And even in those twenty states that do not have statutory compensation, an exoneree may be able to sue the state and recover. Continue reading

NOM and Tax Disclosure

Over at Slate, Mark Joseph Stern reports that the National Organization for Marriage is refusing to release its IRS Form 990 to a Human Rights Campaign employee, who has unsuccessfully knocked on its door and left an official request under its door several times. As a result, Stern asserts that NOM is “blatantly violat[ing] federal law” and that it appears that “NOM is intentionally neglecting to comply with federal law.”

He may be right, but it’s not completely clear.

First, let’s take as a given that NOM is a horrible organization with terrible goals. Moreover, in the post-Obergefell world, it’s not just a horrible organization: it’s essentially an irrelevant organization. But just because it is a bad organization does not inherently mean that it is flouting federal law. To figure that out, we need to drill down on the law that NOM is purportedly violating. Continue reading

Tax Law in the Republican Debate

GOP debateWith less than a year to go until the 2016 presidential election, we’re entering the world of full-fledged campaigning. And full-fledged campaigning brings with it tax proposals and tax assertions. And there were plenty of those at last night’s Republican debate. How did they do? Let’s take a look at a couple of their assertions: Continue reading