Paul L. Caron

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Is the Internal Revenue Code Unconstitutionally Vague?

Interesting item in today's Best of the Web feature on the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal:

"A federal judge struck down President Bush's authority to designate groups as terrorists, saying his post-Sept. 11 executive order was unconstitutionally vague, according to a ruling released Tuesday," the Associated Press reports:

In 2004, [Judge] Collins ruled that portions of the Patriot Act were too vague and, even after Congress amended the act in 2005, she ruled the provisions remained too vague to be understood by a person of average intelligence and were therefore unconstitutional.

So laws are unconstitutional if "a person of average intelligence" can't understand them? Someone ought to get the Internal Revenue Code before this judge.

(Hat Tip:  Scott Schumacher.)

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To understand the problem one only needs compare the provisions of sections 111(a) and 56(b)(1)(D) of the Internal Revenue Code with IRS instuctions that produce "DOUBLE OR NOTHING" taxation of the income/refund related to deductible tax overpayments when the regular tax is paid in one year and the AMT is paid in the other or "DOUBLE" taxation of itemized deduction recoveries when the regular tax is paid in both years.

Explained here.

In view of the analysis in the above consider this News Release from IRS.

Can those responsible for the bollixed instruction related to the tax treatment of recoveries be considered to have average intelligence?


Posted by: WDKebschull | Nov 30, 2006 4:12:49 PM