Taxes

It’s just been confusing. We’ll just be glad to do our taxes just like any other family.

Andrew Cohen, a lawyer in New York who married his husband last year, discussing one effect of the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor, which struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.

(Additional DOMA discussion, after the jump.)

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Well, Bausch and Lomb is finally being sold. Oh, there will be some time between now and the closing, but yesterday’s announcement of 800 million dollars in cost cutting would make any in-house attorney nervous.

The cuts are to come largely from the front office and management, all places where lawyers are part of the organization. I know several good people who face a period of real uncertainty as Valeant performs assessment after assessment of where cuts can be made, and then begins to swing the axe.

My town of Rochester has seen more than its fair share of decline in the last decade. Eastman Kodak is a shell of its former self, and now B&L is going to be owned by a Canadian concern; at least, if true to Canadian tradition, they’ll be “nice” about the cuts, right?

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* They are livestreaming the misconduct case against Judge Wade McCree. [Detroit Free Press]

* GW Law professor John Banzhaf is calling upon the D.C. City Council to bar local broadcasters from using the term “Redskins.” Two decades after the real emergence of “political correctness,” the “Redskins” name has held out against that all-out assault almost as long as the actual Native American society did against Phil Sheridan. [Huffington Post]

* People are still talking about the Yahoo!/Tumblr deal, but the most important deal for the legal profession has slid under the radar. Seamless and GrubHub are merging to make all your “3 a.m. and still haven’t had dinner at the office” dreams come true. [Wall Street Journal]

* Vivia Chen of The Careerist got some flack for suggesting that women taking their husbands’ names was a regressive trend. In (tongue-in-cheek) fairness, here are the good reasons to take your husband’s name. Example: “When you’ve been indicted or convicted.” [The Careerist]

* U. Chicago Law scheduled finals during Memorial Day weekend… while Chicago is closing Lake Shore Drive and cutting back on public transit. UChiLawGo responds. [UChiLawGo]

* A gospel singer is suing McDonald’s because she lost her voice. Normally I’d make fun of this, but she sounds like she has a good argument. [The Inquisitr]

* A review of the legal issues surrounding the DOJ/AP scandal. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Elie explains why the racist, nasty comments we receive don’t faze us at all. [Paidcontent.org]

* Well this is a novel use of fundraising: Speculation that Tim Lambesis (who we covered yesterday) used crowdfunding for a new Austrian Death Machine Schwarzenegger tribute album as the down payment on a hitman to murder his wife. Maybe this new album was going to have a Total Recall theme? [Metal Sucks]

* Stephen Colbert sits down with Caplin & Drysdale’s Trevor Potter to discuss the fact that Colbert’s SuperPAC has never been approved by the IRS. Video after the jump…

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“In four minutes, it would be another hour; a half hour after that was the ten-minute break. Lane Dean imagined himself running around on the break, waving his arms and shouting gibberish and holding ten cigarettes at once in his mouth, like a panpipe. Year after year, a face the same color as your desk. Lord Jesus. Coffee wasn’t allowed because of spills on the files, but on the break he’d have a big cup of coffee in each hand while he pictured himself running around the outside grounds, shouting. He knew what he’d really do on the break was sit facing the wall clock in the lounge and, despite prayers and effort, count the seconds tick off until he had to come back and do this again. And again and again and again.”

David Foster Wallace, The Pale King (affiliate link)

Yesterday, the New York Times ran a longish piece on just what in the hell was happening at the IRS office in Cincinnati. A Kafkaesque tale of bureaucratic intrigue, the treatment does little to tell us why in the hell we care just what in the hell was happening at the IRS office in Cincinnati. I’ll leave that determination to the qualified pundits and their punditry.

But what the Times article does do is shine a light on what it means to be a lawyer. What it means to others and what it means to us. Completely by accident, the mess at the IRS tells us how important lawyers are. And how impotent we are. This makes little sense even as I type it. But bear with me. Please. It is not often that meaning comes so nicely gift-wrapped.

What does it mean to be a lawyer?

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I’m not sure where vice president Joe Biden is getting his information, but he seems rather confident that a tax can be levied against “violent media.” He may want to check with the Supreme Court, which has ruled against regulating violent video games and found taxing certain varieties of speech differently to be a violation of the First Amendment.

Possibly Biden just got carried away with the jovial spirit of censorship pervading the post-Sandy Hook political climate. Or maybe he was just in an overly-agreeable mood and started making affirmative statements without considering what he was saying…

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The settlement with Goldman Sachs was not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue.

–UK High Court Judge Andrew Nicol, employing the spirit of British understatement in a written opinion dismissing a claim by activists that the tax settlement Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs made with Goldman Sachs in 2010 was an unlawful “sweetheart deal.”

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Righteous Indignation, our new column for conservative-minded lawyers.

You probably saw this week’s topic coming. Until the folks at One First Street start tossing Elie and me some fresh meat to tussle over, my indignation — righteous as it is — must be directed elsewhere. Unless EM wants to argue that, when SCOTUS decided that Pelkey’s claim was not preempted by federal law in Dan’s City Used Cars, Inc. v. Pelkey, the Nine were, like, racist or something. (Query: what race is Dan? Where was the supplemental briefing?!)

So. The IRS’s targeting of conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) status. I couldn’t not talk about this scandal, right?

Truly, I kept avoiding devoting this week’s column to the IRS abuses. Seriously.

For one thing, I was not initially so scandalized by this supposed scandal, though I was appropriately dismayed. Second, this story is still developing. So, I hereby reserve my right to be feverishly pissed off later….

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Dear Republicans who are multi-orgasmic over this IRS scandal, just skip this article. Skip the comments. We get it: “OBAMA… had the GOVERNMENT… like, DO STUFF… which PROVES that taxes are bad!!!” Click over to Red State and bathe in the echo chamber. Here, the adults need to have a talk.

My question for the lawyers is this: how are we supposed to check the validity of groups asking for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status? I mean, let’s look at this “scandal” in the way the justice system will look at it, without all the partisan accusations:

  • Group asks for 501(c)(4) status.
  • Group has anti-government message in its very name.
  • Group doesn’t apply for 527 status as a political organization because???
  • IRS asks questions to figure out if these groups are really “social welfare” organizations.
  • ???
  • CONSERVATIVE OUTRAGE!!!!!

I’m open to the possibility that the IRS did something wrong. I’d just like somebody to tell me what the hell they were supposed to do? Just rubber stamp it? Because if that’s true, I certainly think this website is concerned about the “social welfare” and would like to be tax-exempt.

Maybe we should ask the woman in charge of the IRS Exempt Organization Division if we can get tax-exempt status? She’s actually getting an honorary tribute at a law school this weekend…

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Ted Ullyot

* Given the name and origins of the Tea Party movement, it actually makes perfect sense that their groups got grief from the IRS. [Washington Post]

* Wachtell Lipton weighs in against the practice of shareholder activists offering special compensation to director nominees. [Dealbook / New York Times]

* A law professor, Joshua Silverstein, argues that schools should embrace grade inflation. (But haven’t most of them done this already?) [WSJ Law Blog]

* Facebook shareholders might not “like” this news, but Ted Ullyot plans to step down as general counsel after about five years. We’ll have more on this later. [Corporate Counsel]

* The Brooklyn DA’s office is reopening 50 murder cases that were worked on by retired detective Louis Scarcella (who looks oh-so-savory in the NYT’s photo of him). [New York Times]

* In news that should shock no one, Nicholas Speath’s dubious discrimination case against Georgetown Law has been dismissed. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* Not long after leaving Cravath for Kirkland, Sarkis Jebejian is putting together billion-dollar deals for private-equity clients. [Am Law Daily]

* Professor Jeffrey Rosen reviews an interesting new book, The Federalist Society (affiliate link), authored by Michael Avery and Danielle McLaughlin. [New York Times]

It looks like it’s been a while — almost a year, oops! — since we last discussed law-related vanity plates. That said, if you’re a fan of the Law License Plates series and you’d like to see more, please send in your photos via email (subject line: “Vanity License Plate”). We have lots to work with, but if we get more quality submissions from our readers, you may see this column pop up more often in the future.

Today, we’ll be writing about the geekiest (and some of the wealthiest) lawyers of all: those who practice tax law. It was a class most people loved to hate during law school, but if you salivated over the Kirby Lumber case and decided to get an LL.M. in taxation, you’re probably quite happy now.

You’re likely working in Biglaw, at a Big Four accounting firm, or teaching the topic at a law school, and any way you slice it, you’re not ashamed to proclaim your profession on your license plate….

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