Tax

Stripping is supposed to be a lucrative profession — just look at all of the law students racing to the poles in the hopes of obtaining gainful employment. And in some states, bumping and grinding on stage while wearing six-inch lucite heels is even considered an artful expression worthy of protection under the First Amendment. Unfortunately, two lawsuits in New York and Texas threaten to sabotage the erotic striptease entertainment that we’ve all come to know and love.

New York’s highest court is currently considering whether an adult club is entitled to a sales tax exemption for lap dances under the theory that they qualify as “dramatic or musical arts performances.” Meanwhile, in the Lone Star state, a plaintiff in a federal class action suit claims that strippers are misclassified as independent contractors and being forced to live on tips alone.

Now that we’ve greased the pole, let’s get ready for a feature performance from both of these suits….

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It's their world and we're all just playing in it.

* This is a great article on why the Supreme Court doesn’t leak, while more important institutions, like our national security apparatus, leak like a freaking sieve. [New Republic]

* Most law professors think the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Most law professors think the Supreme Court will overturn the ACA anyway. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? [Bloomberg]

* And now for some SCOTUS thoughts from the amazingly amorphous Mitt Romney. Look at his works in equivocation, ye mighty, and despair. [Washington Post]

* You know, I don’t know how they afford this stuff, but having an inalienable right to “paid vacation” really feels like the kind of European invention we should be emulating. Good ideas can come from anywhere, folks. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Letting students sit for the bar exam after their second year but then making them come back to school for an even more obviously useless third year is a great way to make somebody have a total mental dissociative break. Just imagine calculating how much money you’re being forced to waste while you sit there in a 3L seminar called “Law and Ceramics.” [Faculty Lounge]

* Oh, I like this. The little Democrat in me can’t help but like this: a “global” financial transaction tax. Mmm… there’s nothing like the smell of global redistributive fairness. [Overlawyered]

* Jonathan Turley seems hurt that Ann Althouse and other conservative academics acted in a way that shows “we have lost the tradition of civil discourse in this country.” Yeah, umm, Professor Turley, perhaps you didn’t read the footnotes, but here on the internet we don’t have a tradition of civil discourse. We do have a tradition of ad hominem attacks, hyperbole, and pictures of cats. [Jonathan Turley]

* Some law schools are thinking about reducing class sizes, but others are not. Said one dean, “People want to go to our school, and why should we say no?” [The Faculty Lounge]

* The fun coming out of the Seventh Circuit just doesn’t stop. Do you know what an “interrobang” is? [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Speaking of the “What What (In the Butt)” opinion, here’s some analysis from Professor Ann Althouse. [Althouse]

* Yeah, we know, we’re not supposed to give tax advice. So think of this as housing advice: if you earn $1 million or more, avoid living in a blue state. [TaxProf Blog]

* Free Winona Eggs Benedict! A New York City Council bill seeks to remove “unnecessary obstacles” to getting Sunday brunch. [City Room / New York Times]

* An Australian journalist’s thoughts on how to reform the Anglo-American legal system. [The Atlantic]

* Hmm…. should I look into buying the domain name www.david.lat? [Legal Blog Watch]

* How Dewey go through $43 million in six weeks? Is this like Brewster’s Millions or something? Discussion after the jump….

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President Barack Obama now supports marriage equality. And so do many major law firms, it seems. More than 30 top firms provide the “tax offset for domestic partner health benefits” or the “tax equalization for same-sex health benefits.” (If you’re not familiar with this benefit, also known as the “gay gross-up,” see this explanation.)

Since our last discussion of which Biglaw firms offer the tax offset, a few more names have jumped on the bandwagon. Let’s find out which ones, shall we?

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It’s time for your daily dose of Dewey & LeBoeuf news. There’s a lot to cover, including updates about incoming associates, overseas offices, and contingency planning.

Word on the street is that Dewey is deferring incoming associates to January 2013. We reached out to the firm for comment, and they haven’t gotten back to us yet. But it seems logical for the firm to defer associates to early 2013, given how the situation at D&L remains in flux. By next year, Dewey will have a better sense of its ultimate size and its long-term associate needs.

Of course, incoming associates at Dewey might want to make some backup plans. Which brings us to the other D&L news….

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Today, as you probably know, is the deadline for filing your taxes. As was the case last year, the combination of April 15 falling on a weekend and the little-known holiday of Emancipation Day pushed the filing deadline back a bit.

Did you appreciate the extra time to fill out your tax return? Partners at Dewey & LeBoeuf probably did, due to some problems with their K-1 forms.

And speaking of partners at Dewey, their numbers continue to decline. Let’s look at the latest defections, as well as the tax issue.

UPDATE (10:30 AM): The game of musical chairs continues. Six more Dewey departures, which we learned about shortly after publishing this post, after the jump.

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Chris Christie has an idea for Warren Buffett.

* How can you tout your achievements in a cover letter without sounding like a tool? Here are some pointers from Professor Eugene Volokh. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* The “unbundling” of legal services is a big buzzword when talking about the direction of the profession. But Jordan Furlong has a question: should lawyers and law firms start thinking about “rebundling”? [Law21.ca]

* Benchslap of the day earlier this month: the Fourth Circuit smacks around some saucy AUSAs. [Legal Blog Watch]

* “[P]ublic drunkenness is not illegal in NYC.” (Elie will be glad to hear this.) [Gothamist]

* How will SCOTUS rule on the Stolen Valor Act? Mike Sacks reads the oral argument tea leaves. [Huffington Post]

* Chris Christie to Warren Buffett: if you want to pay more in taxes, “just write a check and shut up.” [Dealbreaker]

* A Harvard Law School student, Matthew Schoenfeld, stands up for a good cause. [Harvard Law School News]

Of all the routines in judicial gymnastics, few have a higher degree of difficulty than the reverse benchslap, and we’re trying for a combination double with our Opinion today.

– Judge Mark V. Holmes of the United States Tax Court, dissenting in Tigers Eye Trading, LLC v. Commissioner.

(The background behind this judicial invocation of the term “reverse benchslap,” after the jump.)

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Romney shows what he thinks the ideal effective tax rate should be for people who have good hair.

If you are a wealthy American who pays the top regular income tax rate of 35%, you have terrible, awful lawyers.

Mitt Romney does not have terrible lawyers.

The news of the day is that GOP frontrunner Romney released the previous two years of his tax returns. Romney’s 2010 adjusted gross income was $21,661,344. His estimated AGI for 2011 is $20,901,075. If all of that income was taxed at the highest tax rate, Romney would be paying around $7 million in federal taxes. But only true idiots and Republicans trying to scare people in election years actually believe that wealthy people pay anything approaching a 35% income tax in this country. Instead, Romney’s effective tax rate was about 14% in 2010 and is estimated to be around 15% in 2011. My effective tax rate was higher than Mitt Romney’s in 2010, and I don’t even get to like firing people.

But Romney is trying to spin his tax returns as an example of how “complicated” that tax code is. And the mainstream media is overwhelmed and helping to push that line. But these taxes are not complicated for a tax lawyer — and when you make $20 million a year, you can afford some good ones, so doing your taxes is about as complicated as writing a check for legal fees…

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John J. O'Brien

Last August, John J. O’Brien, who was once a highly regarded and well-liked partner in the celebrated M&A practice of Sullivan & Cromwell, pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor tax offenses. The charges of conviction were mere misdemeanors, but the amounts involved were large, as you’d expect from a well-paid partner at S&C.

O’Brien was accused of failing to file income-tax returns for tax years 2001 to 2008, on almost $11 million in partnership income. In the end, he pleaded guilty to failing to file taxes relating to $9.2 million in partnership income, for tax years 2003 to 2008.

Earlier today, John O’Brien was sentenced. The sentencing hearing provided some interesting additional information about why O’Brien acted as he did.

So is O’Brien trading Biglaw for the Big House? And if so, how long a sentence did he receive?

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