Taxes

Just blaze... until July.

* Say sayonara to the Buffett Rule. Senate Republicans were successful in blocking the 30% tax on millionaires proposed by Democrats. And thank God, because that trickle down thing is totally working for us right now. [Wall Street Journal]

* Rich lawyers keep getting richer because they keep increasing their fees. That being said, where the hell are the bonuses? Come on now, SullCrom, are you seriously going to make us all wait until June? That’s really not very nice. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Well, that was quick: one minute men abound in the George Zimmerman circus. Mark O’Mara filed a motion to get Judge Recksiedler off the case, and the media filed a motion to get access to sealed records. [CNN]

* A federal judge presiding over the John Edwards campaign finance trial dismissed 47 potential jurors. Dude gets around, because apparently he had slept with all of them. Nah, he wishes, though. [Bloomberg]

* As a law school, it sure is easy to claim that just under 100% of the class of 2010 was employed nine months after graduation, especially when you were the one employing them. [National Law Journal]

* Seems like the New York Times has finally caught on to the ADA troll trend. Lawyers are recruiting clients to file suits against noncompliant businesses, but at least the disabled reap the rewards. [New York Times]

* Prospective welfare recipients in Georgia have a few more months to blaze before they’ll have to pass a drug test to receive benefits. Smoke two joints before you prepare for all the incoming lawsuits. [Washington Post]

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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Snooki and J-WOWW

* Florida: a place where people don’t care about your income tax returns. Mitt Romney dominated the state’s primary, grabbing all 50 of the delegates needed for the Republican nomination. [New York Times]

* Entry-level hiring might be down, but lateral hiring is being approached like an NFL draft. Biglaw firms want the best of the best, and if they have to poach partners to get what they want, they will. [Wall Street Journal]

* In the wake of scandal, Edwards Wildman has named a new managing partner. Robert Shuftan will take up the position tomorrow, and he’ll get first dibs on all of the partners’ wives. [Boston Business Journal]

* Paul Ceglia was ordered to pay Facebook’s legal fees, and now he’s crying over Gibson Dunn’s Biglaw price tag. Instead, he wants to pay podunk fees for his podunk town. [Bloomberg]

* Some cities in New Jersey don’t like pollution — they want to keep the trash down the shore. Hoboken’s mayor has denied MTV’s film permit request for Snooki and J-WOWW’s spinoff show. [New York Post]

I get that to lay people, the tax code seems incredibly complicated. It is complicated, and years of both parties legislating through the tax code has made it that way. I understand that the sepia-toned relief of an American being able to puzzle out his taxes on the hood of his pick-up truck before he goes fishing is a powerful image.

But honestly, the mainstream media has to stop acting like Mitt Romney is beset on all sides by byzantine forces that only our greatest theoretical physicists can understand. Taxes are governed by laws. As I’ve said before, we have professionals who deal with those laws; they are called tax lawyers. In fact, if you have modest investments and intelligence, you probably could do your taxes on the hood of your pick-up truck, provided you had a Macbook and downloaded TurboTax.

If, on the other hand, you want to make millions of dollars a year, enjoy the benefits of sophisticated investments, and keep money offshore to avoid paying American taxes on it, then you’re going to have to hire a freaking professional to help you. We’re going to cry over this? We’re going to be sad that we live in a world where people who make extraordinary amounts of money have to rely on trained professionals to help them make just a little bit more?

I guess the Times isn’t exactly crying over it (Fox News has been carrying most of the water on poor Mr. Romney and his complicated taxes), but they are smacking around one of the Biglaw professionals Romney hired. Let’s see which firm…

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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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If this guy wins the Republican nomination, we can agree that the Tea Party was totally overhyped, right?

* So, just so we’re all clear, Republicans running for President are no longer on board with the Voting Rights Act. Happy Martin Luther King Day. [Election Law Blog]

* It’s not like there are no more voting issues where we might want to have federal oversight of state laws that affect the electoral power of minorities in states that have been historically opposed to such things. For instance, where do your prisoners live for the purposes of redistricting? [New York Times]

* I’ll tell you what happens in a world where college kids can “major” in law and take the bar, yet law schools still exist: law schools will continue to operate as they have been, and “law majors” will be the new “must get” credentials for paralegals. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Every time I ask this question, I feel like a horrible person. But it’s a legitimate question: what are the legal ramifications when a race car driver dies while performing a sport that is only interesting because there’s a chance somebody will die? [Legal Blitz]

* Why won’t Mitt Romney show us his taxes? We just want to be envious, Mittens! Feed our envy. [Going Concern]

* I think I should be nominated for this public interest award. Nobody has done more to prevent lawyers from being taken advantage of than me. [American Constitution Society]

* Breaking down the Joe Paterno interview. [Atlantic]

* Now these are some guys that believe in the gold standard. [MyFoxDC]

* As Copyranter said when he emailed this link about the iPoo: “C&D coming in 3, 2, 1…” [Copyranter]

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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It’s one of the biggest cons going around. I cringe whenever I hear it. A lawyer laughs and says, “I’m not good with numbers — that’s why I became a lawyer.”

On the surface, it seems to make sense; it sounds like it should be true. For some, it might even be true. After all, the last time we used quadratic equations was back when loafers on bare feet were considered desirable footwear (thanks Don Johnson).

In-house lawyers should never, ever say they’re bad at math — even those who really are. After all, business people are preoccupied with numbers. As an in-house lawyer, telling a business person that you’re bad at math is like telling them you don’t care about the most important thing that everyone else in your company cares about, and if your company is publicly listed, what every investor in your company cares about — the company’s numbers….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Moonlighting: Things Not to Say In-House – ‘I’m Bad at Math’”

* Merry Christmas! House Republicans will get one less lump of coal in their stockings this year after accepting a two-month extension of unemployment benefits and payroll tax cuts. [New York Times]

* Another birther lawsuit has been thrown out, but Orly Taitz won’t be stopped. She’s like the Energizer Bunny of questionable litigation. She’ll keep appealing, and appealing, and appealing… [Los Angeles Times]

* John Edwards is trying to delay his criminal trial, claiming to have a mystery medical diagnosis. What kind of disease does karma hand you for cheating on your sick wife? [New York Daily News]

* Nora Demleitner will be will be stepping in as the new dean of Washington and Lee University School of Law. Hofstra Law, you M.A.D.? [National Law Journal]

* Is the American Bar Association really driving up the cost of law school tuition, or is it the law schools themselves? Here are some graphs that might surprise you. [Am Law Daily]

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