Tax Law

Many of the things I enjoy in life (smoking, drinking, kicking children who speak out of turn) are either illegal or subject to a sin tax. Luckily, most of the laws against my illegal vices are unenforceable if I commit infractions discretely. (“I don’t know what happened to little Jimmy. He must have fallen onto my foot.”) But I can’t avoid sin taxes — and thus I can’t stand them.

First of all, they are regressive. Secondly, they’re anti-business. So we literally have a tax regime that freedom-loving progressives and money-loving conservatives should hate, and yet sin taxes continue to be an acceptable way for the government to shove its morality down our throats.

The Texas Supreme Court is wrestling with just such a question of morality versus freedom and money. Specifically, it’s a battle between morality and the freedom to stuff money into a g-string. The Austin-American Statesman reports:

Is exotic dancing, performed partially clothed or fully nude, a form of free speech protected by the U.S. Constitution?

Strip club owners insist that it is, and on Thursday they asked the Texas Supreme Court to strike down the state’s $5-per-patron tax as an unconstitutional limit on free expression.

Of course, proponents of the tax can’t just come out and say “we hate men who like to look at nude women.” Check out the hook they’re trying to hang their abuse of legislative power on…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “No Sin Taxes in the Champagne Room”

tax headaches tax evasion taxation tax crimes.JPG‘Tis the season for… W-2s. When you get that handy-dandy form from your employer, we suggest that you file it with your federal income tax return — in timely fashion. [FN1]
And don’t forget to file any applicable state and local tax returns, too. Otherwise you could find yourself in deep doo-doo. From the Long Island Press:

Three attorneys, an accountant and a doctor were arrested Tuesday for failing to file a combined total of more than $365,000 in state personal income taxes, Nassau prosecutors said. The arrests were part of a statewide sweep by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (NYSDTF).

Arresting someone on a failure-to-file charge? Seems a bit extreme. But if the authorities wanted to send a message about how seriously they take tax crimes, they succeeded.

The attorneys who were charged with failure to file a personal income tax return include 47-year-old David Mollon of Great Neck, 50-year-old Kelly Talcott of Sea Cliff and Dennis O’Leary, 57, of Westbury. Facing the same charge is 53-year-old Gerald Gartner of Lawrence, a certified public accountant, and 62-year-old Avelino Rosales of Cedarhurst, a physician.

O’Leary is a personal injury lawyer — res ipsa loquitur. But Mollon and Talcott are (or were) partners at large law firms, places whose names you’d recognize.
Find out which firms, as well as how much Mollon and Talcott earned during the tax years in question, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyers of the Week: A Trio of Tax Suspects”

John OBrien John J OBrien headshot Sullcrom Sullivan Cromwell partner.jpgBack in April, we wondered about the departure from Sullivan & Cromwell of John O’Brien, a highly regarded and well-liked corporate partner who focused on M&A work. This development captured our interest because it’s unusual for lawyers to leave the (highly lucrative) partnership of a top firm like S&C.

When partners leave a place like Sullivan & Cromwell, there’s often a story behind the departure. E.g., Carlos Spinelli-Noseda (partner left S&C after billing clients and firm for more than $500,000 in fraudulent travel and entertainment expenses).

In addition, word on the street was that O’Brien was escorted from the building by security personnel. Partners are being asked to leave their firms with increasing frequency during the recession — but they’re not usually walked out by muscle.

So we decided to do a little digging.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why Did John O’Brien Leave Sullivan & Cromwell?”

Ronald George Chief Justice Ronald M George Ron George.jpg
In a speech last night before the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the chief justice of the California Supreme Court, Ronald M. George, criticized his state’s reliance on the initiative process. His remarks focused on how that process, direct democracy taken to the extreme, has paralyzed state government, especially when it comes to fiscal matters.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “California: The Not-So-Golden State?”

erisa lawyers.jpegLet’s push forward with our series of open threads on small law firms in different practice areas. To see what we’ve covered so far, click here and scroll down.
Today’s topic: ERISA LAW. For those of you who aren’t familiar with ERISA, we’ll quote a prior post of ours:

For all of you non-lawyers — or for those of you who sat in the back row in law school — ERISA stands for the “Employee Retirement Income Security Act.” It’s the federal law, originally passed in 1974 and subsequently amended, that governs the administration of pension and employee benefit plans. So yes, it’s pension law.

This area of law may not sound sexy, but it has some sexy practitioners. Back in 2006, we held an ERISA lawyer hotties contest. Feel free to check out the male nominees, the female nominees, and the ultimate winners.
More substantive thoughts on ERISA practice, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Small Law Firm Open Thread: ERISA / Employee Benefits Law”

will last will testament trusts estates.jpgWe continue our series of open threads about small law firms focused on different areas of practice. In light of the turmoil being experienced by Biglaw, as well as the many laid-off lawyers and job-hunting law students looking for other opportunities, now is an excellent time to look beyond large law firms.
Today we turn our attention to TRUSTS AND ESTATES. What is it like to work at a small (or at least non-big) firm focused on T&E work? What are your hours like? Your compensation? What do you like the most — and the least — about your job?
Please discuss, in the comments.
Speaking of trusts and estates, at the recent Lavender Law conference we attended a workshop on advanced estate planning. The panelists offered advice that might be helpful to people who practice in, or aspire to practice in, trusts and estates.
Read about it, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Small Law Firm Open Thread: Trusts and Estates
(Plus another Lavender Law panel write-up.)”

Weekend Warrior.JPGIf the power to tax is the power to destroy, then shouldn’t we at least try taxing stupidity? They’re thinking about doing it in France. From Going Concern:

Our frog eating friends have decided that they will start taxing people for their stupidity:
“The French Foreign Ministry is proposing a very narrow law requiring citizens foolish enough to wander into international danger zones, regardless of public warnings, to pay at least part of the cost of their own rescue.”

If you wander up a silly mountain and get stuck, it is civilized to have somebody go and try to find you even it was your own damn fault. But that doesn’t mean society should have to foot the entire bill for your weekend warrior shenanigans. Right?
Click on the link below to read — and comment on — the full post.
The Solution to All Our Fiscal Problems [Going Concern]

pink slip layoff notice small Above the Law blog.jpgNothing is certain but death and taxes — and employment for tax lawyers, right?
Not necessarily. Read more at our sister site, Going Concern.
True Partners Consulting Layoffs Get Our Attention [Going Concern]

It’s legal, so it’s within our jurisdiction. But our sister sites have written it up already, so we’ll simply refer you to their coverage.
UBS is Naming Names (Finally) [Going Concern]
UBS Eagerly Pays Extortion Money [Dealbreaker]

Henry Louis Gates Jr small Skip Gates.jpgAll the attention recently showered upon Harvard celebrity professor Henry Louis Gates since his arrest earlier this month has resulted in the discovery of tax problems at a foundation he created and oversees.
Read more and comment over at Going Concern.
Henry Louis Gates Can’t Catch a Break [Going Concern]

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