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!

Bruce Rauner and the Cayman Islands

On Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times ran an exposé on Illinois gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner’s finances. Specifically, the Sun-Times informed its readership (and the world at large) that Rauner has at least a portion of his fortune in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven country.

To which I reply, Duh.

Seriously, I’m not entirely sure how this could be more of a non-story. But to explain why it’s a non-story, I should probably unpack what the Sun-Times says, what it doesn’t say, and what it probably should say.  Continue reading

Lord Grantham’s Tax Strategy

uktv-downton-abbey-episode-3-6[Spoiler alert: if you haven’t seen Season 4, Episode 2 of Downton Abbey yet, this post contains an ever-so-minor spoiler.]

Tonight’s episode of Downton Abbey confirms my suspicion that Season 4 is the tax season. (Apparently, the writers were desperate to snare the tax attorney demographic.) So why is Lord Grantham so set on selling land to pay Matthew’s death duties? We learned tonight, in Episode 2, that other tax considerations have a lot to do with it.  Continue reading

Decriminalizing Polygamy

sister_wives_tv_series_logoOn Friday, December 13, the Judge Waddoups, a district court judge in the District of Utah, held that Utah’s criminalization of polygamy was unconstitutional.[fn1] Partly, anyway.

More on that in a minute. I suspect that this opinion will reverberate throughout the blogosphere and the mainstream media, with the reporting displaying various levels of accuracy. The question I suspect won’t get much play, though, is, what are the tax consequences of this decision?  Continue reading

Lois Lerner and Felonious Accusations [edited 11/1/2013]

ImagePity Lois Lerner. She chose a poor time to act as Director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations division, what with the Tea Party scandal, which resulted first in her being placed on paid administrative leave, and then to her resignation.

Even after her tenure at the IRS, though, Ms. Lerner can’t catch a break. On Halloween, Judicial Watch broke the news that she provided detailed, confidential information concerning the tax exempt application status and returns of conservative groups to the FEC in violation of federal law.  Continue reading

The Amazon Tax in the Supreme Court

amzn_fb-tw_Icon-globalIn 2008, New York passed its so-called Amazon Tax, which required (and certain other internet retailers) to collect New York sales tax on its sales to New York residents.

But wait, you may object, doesn’t the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota mean that out-of-state retailers without a physical presence in New York don’t have to collect New York sales tax? Continue reading

Joint Returns and Same-Sex Couples

ImageIn 1996, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). Until this year, DOMA did two significant things: it allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, and it prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages for any purpose. Any purpose included for tax purposes: for all federal income, gift, and estate tax purposes, same-sex spouses were treated as unrelated individuals.  Continue reading

Taxes, Slots, and the Foreign Businessperson

ImageYesterday, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit made life a little easier for foreigners who come to the U.S., gamble, and lose. It held in Park v. Commissioner that a nonresident alien (that is, non-citizens who do not live in the U.S.) can deduct gambling losses against gambling gains from the same gambling session in determining her U.S. tax. This conclusion is certainly fair and administrable. But it is also wrong.  Continue reading