Tax Law

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Righteous Indignation: On the IRS Abuses and the Banality of Bureaucratic Evil”

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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Many fine things can be said about Cleary Gottlieb. It’s prestigious (#8 in the latest Vault rankings). It’s profitable (#10 in the recently released Am Law 100 profit-per-partner rankings). It’s pleasant, known for a nice firm culture.

So what are the downsides of Cleary? Here’s one: the firm might be a bit… boring.

As you can see from our archives, we don’t write that much about Cleary. And when we do, it’s not always exciting stuff — e.g., Cravath-matching bonunses. Yawn.

Well, today we bring you some news about Cleary that might be at least slightly juicy: a mysterious partner departure, and possible stealth layoffs….

UPDATE (2:30 p.m.): Now with an important update, a statement from the partner in question.

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* Forget playing with Wade. LeBron took his talents to South Beach to avoid tons of state taxes. [The Legal Blitz]

* Steve Susman of Susman Godfrey just completed the 180-mile trek from Houston to Austin by bike. Susman took part in this MS fundraiser with his grown kids and 35 other Susman Godfrey team members. Kudos. (You can donate via the link.) [National MS Society]

* The Obama administration is entering a showdown over its use of the “state secrets” privilege. The government is concerned that if it cannot shield “no-fly list” paperwork, it might chill their frank discussion of racial profiling. [Politico]

* A new in-house tool to replace outside counsel? Sure it may be cheaper, but can a computer get you playoff tickets? [Associate's Mind]

* Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (affiliate link), received a good deal of praise, but her model of “trickle-down feminism” is a tad suspect. [JDs Rising / Minnesota Lawyer]

* We have a follow-up to the earlier Nevada benchslap. Now we have video of the judge handing out contempt charges for no reason. Wow. That’s some hardcore abused discretion. [Las Vegas Law Blog]

* Remember the L.A. Law puppets video from a couple weeks ago? Well, it’s now a series. Watch Episode 1 after the jump….

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The only good things to ever happen to the city of Cleveland occurred in the movie Major League. From “Wild Thing” Ricky Vaughn to Willie “Mays” Hayes, the Indians were never such a joy to watch as they were during that fateful summer, when they climbed back into contention against the cretinous Yankees and their slugger Clu Haywood (“Haywood leads the league in most offensive categories, including nose hair.”). With a roster that resembled nothing so much as the Island of Misfit Toys, the Indians were an absolute delight to watch.

In real life, Cleveland is an angry, festering boil of despair. The Indians suck, the Cavaliers suck, and the Cuyahoga River catches fire likes it’s made of charcoal briquettes. If there is a God, and he is a vengeful one, that God hates Cleveland. There is no other explanation for the singularly awful string of events that have befallen Cleveland sports during my lifetime. The Drive, the Decision, the Fumble, the Shot. God hasn’t sodomized a town like this since Sodom.

Yesterday, news leaked that the Cleveland Cavaliers were considering rehiring coach Mike Brown. While hilarious, this has nothing to do with the law. Instead, we are here to talk about Jimmy Haslam. Haslam bought the Cleveland Browns just this past October. This week, it was announced that the FBI and the IRS had raided the headquarters of Haslam’s company, Pilot Flying J. Yesterday, the feds announced why they had done this.

Let’s talk misery. Let’s talk despair. Let’s talk Cleveland.

Let’s talk sports…

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* “Yes, it is true.” Justice Scalia admitted in a speech this week that he was guided to the right by his colleague, Justice Thomas, who’s apparently “a very stubborn man.” [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* It’s about time to say so long to your ticking tax time bomb: in President Obama’s proposed budget for 2014, he eliminates taxes on forgiven loan debt under all IBR plans. [Bucks / New York Times]

* “I am the luckiest man in the world.” Larry Macon, an Akin Gump partner from Texas, had nearly finished the Boston Marathon when the bombs exploded, but lived to tell his tale. [Am Law Daily]

* Because sometimes you need to steal $374K worth of copy toner. This ex-Fried Frank staffer pleaded guilty to grand larceny, and is looking at up to 15 years in jail. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Judge Victor Marrero isn’t a fan of SEC policy, but when it comes to this civil insider trading case, SAC Capital may get to walk away without admitting or denying anything. [DealBook / New York Times]

* This Yale Law graduate is suing Brooks Brothers over a three-button suit, and wants $2K for the 90 minutes he spent arguing over it in the store. Who is the $1333/hour man? [New York Daily News]

* Thoughts go out to all those in Boston. [CNN]

* I hope you’ve all got your taxes finished. Here’s a fun fact: most tax cheats live in the South and the West. The two areas of the country filled with people who think taxes are evil cheat more? Go figure. [NBC News]

* Remember, it’s not polite to say “thank you.” [Las Vegas Law Blog]

* And now the rare, “self-benchslap.” [Associated Press]

* A detailed look at how the Federalist Society became so powerful in American law schools. Unfortunately, it neglects the “they tend to order better pizzas for their events” gambit. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Remember the new, depressing, public domain Happy Birthday song? The sponsor of that contest, WFMU, is at it again with a new contest to create modern, entertaining covers of public domain ditties. Despite my ragging on the birthday song, this is a pretty cool idea. [Free Music Archive]

* Are you a young lawyer complaining about your lot in life? You’re at this site, so statistically you are. Well, quit your bitchin’! [Associate's Mind]

* The Texas Supreme Court does not value emotional attachments to dogs. This is surprising because I can think of at least 10 country songs on this very point. [Law and More]

* Mocking law school couples with a GIF from Veep? Get out of my head, UChiLawGo! [UChiLawGo]

* Boob-induced failure. [Legal Juice]

Unlike the latest Harmony Korine movie, filled with neon bikinis, former Disney princesses. and James Franco in bad dreads, my Spring Break consists of hanging with my kids while my wife works 24/7 on a grant application. We don’t make annual pilgrimages to Turks and Caicos; we make bi-weekly trips to Wegmans. But you know what? I signed on for this, and no amount of island sand can replace the sound of my younger boy reading a bedtime story to his little sister for the first time last night.

I read with interest the compensation package for the anonymous in-houser that Lat posted yesterday. In the comments, I pointed out that the package wasn’t outrageous or impossible, just that it was (way) outside of the norm. And that is okay. I chose this life and I am happy to say that it has been a soft landing for me. I have a good job, in a real estate market that is hard to beat — anywhere.

Lat is correct that Susan, Mark and I need to be circumspect about compensation; it would not do for our employers to see a pay scale pasted on these pages. So what can I say about my comp?

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