National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins today released her 2020 Annual Report to Congress, focusing on the unprecedented challenges taxpayers faced in filing their tax returns and receiving refunds and stimulus payments during a year consumed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report also finds that a roughly 20% inflation-adjusted reduction in the IRS's budget since fiscal year (FY) 2010 has left the agency with antiquated technology and inadequate staffing levels to meet taxpayers' needs.
As part of the report, Collins released the fourth edition of the National Taxpayer Advocate's "Purple Book," a compilation of 66 legislative recommendations designed to strengthen taxpayer rights and improve tax administration.
What happens once Mr. Biden can begin enacting changes to tax policy? ... [P]erhaps the best way to consider what to do in 2021 is to think about what you need to do in the short, medium and long term. There’s a lot to think about, so I’m going to break this topic into two columns. This week, I’m going to look at long-term issues; next week, I’ll get into the more immediate tax issues that could bubble up this year.
The biggest potential long-term change involves the estate tax. But in contrast to previous changes, the tax code could be modified in a way that affects everyone who has something of value to leave to heirs.
For decades, assets were valued at the time of the owner’s death, even if the value had risen. This so-called step-up in basis rule works like this: If a stock that was bought for $1 is worth $10 when the owner dies, the gain is $9. But when that asset is passed on to heirs, the embedded gain is wiped out because the base value is now $10 and no capital gains tax is owed.
This treatment applies to any asset, from liquid securities and private investment partnerships to a family home. If the total value of the estate is less than the current $11.7 million exemption level for an individual or $23.4 million for a couple, then no estate tax would need to be paid, either.
A Biden administration may move to change this for logical and revenue reasons. At one point, the step-up in basis made sense. Imagine trying to determine the capital gains from AT&T stock that your grandmother bought in 1943 when record-keeping was done with a pencil and paper. Today, cost-basis information can be retrieved in seconds.
But two different groups of people have raised concerns about losing the step-up loophole: the very wealthy and the moderately wealthy.
If you’re Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, the two richest people in the world, having your long-term holdings in Amazon and Tesla given a step-up in basis is a huge savings on capital gains tax, because they’re going to be paying estate tax regardless.
But for people of more modest wealth, say someone lucky enough to inherit a home or a stock portfolio, the loss of step-up could be even more significant. ...
For the Black community, the prospect of an heir’s paying capital gains tax on inherited property could contribute to maintaining the racial wealth gap, said Calvin Williams Jr., chief executive and founder of Freeman Capital.
It takes a fine sense of irony to start the season of giving by trying to limit Americans’ generosity. Yet that would be the outcome of a high-profile legislative proposal unveiled on Dec. 1, “Giving Tuesday,” conceived by former hedge-fund manager John Arnold and Boston College law professor Ray Madoff. The proposal would stifle Americans who want to support worthy causes but aren’t superrich. It would also further the goals of progressive politicians who seek to punish charitable giving they don’t like and can’t control.
The “Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving” is framed as a way to force the wealthy to give more. It enjoys the backing of some of America’s biggest and most prominent foundations, including Ford, Kresge, Kellogg and Hewlett. These large and powerful institutions are effectively trying to dictate how smaller and less influential donors give, which dovetails neatly with the goals of progressive politicians and activists.
The centerpiece is a series of regulations on donor-advised funds, a popular option for philanthropists outside the 1%. While the foundations supporting the initiative control a combined $38 billion, the average donor-advised fund has a little more than $166,000 set aside for charity. Donor-advised funds allow individuals to donate as much as they like annually, even a few hundred dollars. Some choose to give right away, while others take a long-term approach, waiting to align their priorities with the needs of the communities they aim to serve. These funds also provide donors with the option of privacy—the particular focus of political attack.
Big Law tax practice leaders expect an even busier year for tax lawyers in 2021, with corporate clients still working through the sweeping changes from the Trump administration’s 2017 tax reform legislation.
What’s more, the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing cash-strapped states to seek new revenue sources, including tax increases, while federal and state tax authorities are stepping up enforcement. That will mean more work for corporate tax lawyers, whether they handle tax planning, controversy and litigation, or merger and acquisition deals.
Under the Biden administration, tax practice leaders expect that congressional gridlock will block any major federal tax legislation to counteract the Trump administration’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
For about two years, advocates of small business say, the [California Department of Tax and Fee Administration] has been dunning out-of-state retailers that sold through Amazon’s marketplace prior to 2019, when Amazon started collecting sales taxes on those transactions — and seeking to collect taxes on sales from as far back as 2012.A trade association for those sellers has sued, accusing the agency of an unconstitutional overreach and unlawful discrimination.
The CDTFA’s mission is important, overseeing taxes that support schools, public safety and other essential services. And out-of-state online sellers that don’t collect sales taxes have an unfair advantage over in-state stores that do. That’s why state lawmakers around the country sought for years to force Amazon and other online retailers to collect sales taxes, ultimately leading the Supreme Court in 2018 to overturn decades-old precedents and let states require companies outside their borders to collect and remit taxes on sales to people inside their borders.
California did so through a law enacted in 2019. But the CDTFA argues that retailers that relied on Amazon to store and ship their goods are liable for taxes even before then, dating back to the first day any of their products were stored by Amazon in a California warehouse — even though Amazon is managing the entire process through its “Fulfillment by Amazon” program.
In its lawsuit, the Online Merchants Guild argues that the duty to collect those taxes should have fallen on Amazon, which acts as a virtual consignment store and should have been treated that way. But state tax officials gave the company a pass from 2012 to 2019, creating a hole that the CDTFA is trying to fill by retroactively taxing companies like Lollipop Seeds. ...
Every year, for over 80 years, the Tax Foundation has hosted its end-of-year gala, Tax Prom, to bring together the tax community in a spirit of bipartisanship and to celebrate the hard work of the year.
In 2020, like so many other things, Tax Prom was a little different. Instead of gathering in person, we brought the celebration online and dedicated the evening to a very special group of people—Congressional Staff, the unsung heroes in Congress.
From James Steele (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Washington, D.C.):
As part of the ABA Tax Section's Military VITA pro bono effort, we have recently taken over an important, ongoing resource for Military VITA sites. We will be updating and maintaining, on a go-forward basis, a State Tax Guide that compiles relevant state income tax topics and issues that are specific to members of the Military. For reference, and as a way to provide a sense of the volunteer commitment, I have attached a sample state from the current version of the Guide. The state-specific guides range from one to four pages, and the volunteer's job is simply to review and make any relevant updates to ensure accuracy and repeat this task each December in preparation for tax season.
We are looking for one or more volunteers to adopt each state with a state income tax, plus Washington, DC, to help review and update the Guide. By dividing the document by state, the time commitment of each volunteer should be very minimal. If you are interested in signing up for more than just your state, we welcome that too. The audience for the Guide is Military members (often with no prior tax background), so we are trying to keep it very readable and limit it to the most common issues. This volunteer opportunity is ideal for new attorneys, retired attorneys, non-attorneys, and anyone in between. It also could be a group effort at a firm. No prior experience is necessary, and the information is easily attainable by researching online.
California’s Legislature is considering a wealth tax on residents, part-year residents, and any person who spends more than 60 days inside the state’s borders in a single year. Even those who move out of state would continue to be subject to the tax for a decade—a provision that calls to mind the Eagles’ famous “Hotel California” lyric: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”
The California Constitution probably allows a statewide wealth tax on residents, but any effort to create a tax capable of reaching across state borders is likely to run afoul of the U.S. Constitution. Taxing someone who spends only 60 days in the state in any single year—and extending that tax over an ensuing decade—would be something new under the sun.
Each year this tax net would gather up a new crop of taxpayers for the next decade. The range of people it proposes to ensnare is staggering: every student attending college in California, anyone having a major medical procedure at a California hospital and needing an extended in-state recovery period, and those who spend two months in California away from New York or London winters. Under California tax law, there is no distinction between a nonresident from Minnesota and a nonresident from Dubai.
Assembly Bill 2088 proposes calculating the wealth tax based on current world-wide net worth each Dec. 31. For part-year and temporary residents, the tax would be proportionate based on their number of days in California. The annual tax would be on current net worth and therefore would include wealth earned, inherited or obtained through gifts or estates long before and long after leaving the state. ...
[Bob Dylan] just sold the rights to “Blowin’ in the Wind” and 600 other songs to Universal Music Publishing Group for a reported $300 million. Added to his previously reported net worth of $200 million, the transaction implies that Dylan will reach his 80th birthday on May 24 as a half-billionaire.
This is a tribute to his genius and, on the whole, to a political and economic system that rewards artists whether they merely entertain multitudes — or inspire them to march against that same system.
Nevertheless, some socially conscious musician could write a song protesting the Dylan deal, because of what it reveals about that engine of irrationality and inequality known as the U.S. tax system.
The Women In Economics Initiative was established to advance gender equality in the field of economics. Our goal is to encourage equal opportunity and balanced representation of genders in the economics profession across the academic, business and public sectors.
This paper uses data from 18 OECD countries over the last five decades to estimate the causal effect of major tax cuts for the rich on income inequality, economic growth, and unemployment. First, we use a new encompassing measure of taxes on the rich to identify instances of major reductions in tax progressivity. Then, we look at the causal effect of these episodes on economic outcomes by applying a nonparametric generalization of the difference-in-differences indicator that implements Mahalanobis matching in panel data analysis. We find that major reforms reducing taxes on the rich lead to higher income inequality as measured by the top 1% share of pre-tax national income. The effect remains stable in the medium term. In contrast, such reforms do not have any significant effect on economic growth and unemployment.
The idea of an onerous middle-class tax burden permeates the American political psyche.
Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump campaigned on middle-class tax cuts. The myth of the “forgotten man” who pays all his taxes and reaps none of the benefits remains a galvanizing force in U.S. politics.
Yet, a new report shows, more than a third of the U.S. middle class get more in government benefits than they pay in taxes, and that share is rising. The middle class has clearly not been forgotten by tax policy.
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the tax code.
The sale of Bob Dylan’s songwriting catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group, announced this week, likely means he is trading an ongoing income stream for a lump sum now. The price hasn’t been revealed but is said to be between $300 million and $400 million.
Mr. Dylan’s sale is the latest and largest of a spate of similar deals this year that come with significant tax benefits both for the songwriters selling the rights and for the companies buying them, and those incentives are encouraging transactions. ...
For musicians, a key advantage is that they can sell self-created works and owe capital-gains tax rates of 20% on the sale. That’s instead of owing ordinary tax rates of up to 37% each year on the royalty income they get from streaming, licensing and other uses of their works.
The lower capital-gains rate isn’t available to painters, filmmakers or videogame developers, who pay ordinary income-tax rates on sales as well as royalties.
Law firm partners in some high-tax states could save a lot of money in income taxes now that the IRS has approved a work-around for the federal deduction cap on state and local tax payments.
The work-around allows individuals to capture federal income tax deductions beyond the $10,000 cap on state and local tax (SALT) payments that took effect in 2018. While it has the potential to benefit law firm partners who pay high SALT taxes, the complexities will likely limit how many large firms can use it.
I read today that Bob Dylan has sold the copyrights to more than 600 of his songs, pretty much all of them, to Universal Music for a reported $300 million. It sounds like a lot of money, but scrolling down in one of the stories, I saw that Stevie Nicks recently got $80 million for hers. Heck, Dylan is not even four times Stevie Nicks? It does not compute. Maybe he sold too cheap.
Anyway, this news causes my alleged mind to turn to a time-honored pastime among tax types: allocating the mega-purchase price among the various songs. The whole catalog is worth the overall price Universal is paying, but how much would you pay for, say, just "All Along the Watchtower"? Tax people have to unbundle packages this way all the time. The packages just aren't usually as cool as this one. ...
Why is he selling now? The income tax hit will be massive. Maybe he's thinking his tax rates are going to go up next year under Biden, and in whatever state he calls home. And maybe he's getting a better tax rate by selling than he would get by continuing to collect annually. But still, he's setting up a nice payday for the IRS if he's cashing in all his chips at once. (Maybe he's getting paid out over a few years, which might allow him to spread the tax hit out a bit over time.)
For a number of reasons, late 2020 may be the absolute optimal moment to sell a top-tier music catalog, and Bob Dylan’s catalog is arguably on a tier of its own near the very top. ...
The deal’s value to Dylan depends on how the proceeds get taxed. A gigantic windfall like his would normally be taxed as a capital gain at a rate of 20% under current law. But President-elect Biden has proposed taxing capital gains as ordinary income for taxpayers with income over $400,000. The top ordinary income rate is now 37%, and Biden has proposed raising it to 39.6%. ...
If you’ve worked from home this year, and that home is in a different state from your office, think about your taxes immediately. Acting now could help avoid surprise bills, interest and penalties when filing state taxes next year.
This year the coronavirus pandemic turned millions of workers into telecommuters, and many haven’t yet returned to the office. People who have worked from a state that isn’t their usual one may need to file returns and pay taxes to more than one state for 2020.
These requirements will come as a shock to many: More than 70% of Americans don’t know that telecommuting from another state can affect a worker’s state-tax bill, according to an October survey by The Harris Poll for the American Institute of CPAs. ...
The challenge is that each state’s tax system is a unique mix of rules. When someone owes income tax to more than one state, these systems often clash, and the taxpayer can wind up owing more tax, or the same, or (rarely) less. The outcome often depends on variables like tax rates, credits and agreements between the states.
Dear Dean Caron, The United States Tax Court is currently seeking a consultant to perform work in connection with the Court's nonattorney exam, which is offered to individuals who are not attorneys but wish to be admitted to practice before the Court. The attached request for proposal provides the details concerning this opportunity.
Please feel free to share the request for proposal with current or former (including retired) members of your tax law faculty who you feel might be interested in such an opportunity.
After years of denying allegations of lax financial oversight, the National Rifle Association has made a stunning declaration in a new tax filing: Current and former executives used the nonprofit group’s money for personal benefit and enrichment.
The NRA said in the filing that it continues to review the alleged abuse of funds, as the tax-exempt organization curtails services and runs up multimillion-dollar legal bills. The assertion of impropriety comes four months after the attorney general of New York state filed a lawsuit accusing NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre and other top executives of using NRA funds for decades to provide inflated salaries and expense accounts.
The tax return, which The Washington Post obtained from the organization, says the NRA “became aware during 2019 of a significant diversion of its assets.” The 2019 filing states that LaPierre and five former executives received “excess benefits,” a term the IRS uses to describe executives’ enriching themselves at the expense of a nonprofit entity.
As Professor Patricia Bryan eases into her retirement, we wanted to look back on her illustrious career.
Bryan joined the Carolina Law faculty in 1982 and serves as the Henry P. Brandis Distinguished Professor of Law. Her teaching and research interests include tax and law and literature. She is the author of Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America’s Heartland (Algonquin 2005, University of Iowa 2007) and the co-editor of Her America: "A Jury of Her Peers" and other Stories, a collection of stories by Susan Glaspell. Bryan has written and spoken extensively about Glaspell’s work. She has also done historical research into several criminal cases from the 19th century and has published articles about them in the Stanford Law Review and the Annals of Iowa. Most recently, she has researched and written about the federal tax exemption and public financing for sports stadiums.
California’s state budget faces a dramatic boom-and-bust period over the next four years, analysts said Wednesday, a roller-coaster period that could begin with a $26-billion tax windfall and later plunge to a projected deficit of $17.5 billion by the middle of 2025.
Though the gradual trend toward budget shortfalls was expected when lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom crafted a state budget in June, the large supply of extra cash — equal to almost 20% of all current-year spending out of California’s general fund — is a surprise, Legislative Analyst Gabriel Petek said.
“Many of us thought that the state revenues were headed for a plunge,” Petek said Wednesday of fears over an economic slowdown sparked by the pandemic. “But as it turns out, revenues have proven to be much more resilient than that.”
Instead, the state’s tax revenues have remained strong — in part, Petek said, because high-income residents have not suffered any notable setbacks and California’s budget relies heavily on those taxpayers.
Two separate New York State fraud investigations into President Trump and his businesses, one criminal and one civil, have expanded to include tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees, some of which appear to have gone to Ivanka Trump, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The inquiries — a criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and a civil one by the state attorney general, Letitia James — are being conducted independently. But both offices issued subpoenas to the Trump Organization in recent weeks for records related to the fees, the people said.
The subpoenas were the latest steps in the two investigations of the Trump Organization, and underscore the legal challenges awaiting the president when he leaves office in January. There is no indication that his daughter is a focus of either inquiry, which the Trump Organization has derided as politically motivated. ...
President Donald Trump’s defeat will make it a lot easier for Democrats to finally get his tax returns, and some prominent lawmakers plan to keep the heat on the incoming Biden administration and House leaders to deliver.
Once Biden controls the Treasury Department, his administration could simply hand over the long-sought records to its allies in Congress, who have been fighting in court to force Trump to turn them over, so far unsuccessfully.
But Biden is casting himself as a moderate uniter, and releasing Trump’s returns risks looking like a vindictive investigation of his predecessor.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden can learn a lot from Japan.
I say this not because Japan-style capitalism does not have its share of problems, but because the overall result generated by the Japanese economic system is extremely positive. Japan is the global best-in-class for balancing both income growth and income distribution. The result is not just extraordinary socioeconomic stability, but also strong resilience against the temptations of divisive populism — a la Donald Trump.
Creating and sustaining a stable society is one of the fundamental goals of economic policymaking. For this, an economy must both grow and distribute the spoils of wealth creation in a fair and equitable way. So what’s the score? How wealthy are the people and how is that wealth distributed? At the end of last year, the median net financial wealth — all financial assets minus liabilities — for households in Japan stood at $104,000. In the United States, it was $62,000.
Clear-speak: The average Japanese is actually about 40% richer than the average American. ...
[L]et’s take a moment to contemplate how tax avoidance and evasion have become facts of life for some of the richest Americans.
They’ve done so with the connivance of our lawmakers, who have tied the hands of the Internal Revenue Service. The latest analysis of the situation came to us last week from David Cay Johnston, a journalist who has made the inequities of the income tax into a personal cause.
Here’s the most eye-opening statistic. Some 23,456 U.S. households reported income of $10 million or more last year (that is, for the 2018 tax year), averaging more than $26 million each in taxable income. The IRS audited seven of them.
That comes to less than three-hundredths of a percent. That’s about the chance of being struck by lightning at some point in your lifetime. So it may not be surprising that wealthy taxpayers don’t think they’re living dangerously with the IRS. ...
Lederman leads the Indiana University School of Law’s Tax Policy Colloquium during the spring semester, which she said was disrupted this year because of the pandemic.
When the 2020 colloquium shifted to online, Lederman saw an opportunity when she realized, “Oh, the geographic boundaries are gone." She told Tax Notes she opened up the colloquium and invited more people to the digital format.
Because of that, the 2020 colloquium had an increased attendance compared with previous years, and toward its end, Lederman asked around to see if there would be an interest in continuing with a brand-new online program over the summer.
That resulted in the Indiana/Leeds Summer Tax Workshop Series, co-hosted by Lederman and Leopoldo Parada of the University of Leeds School of Law in the United Kingdom.
Having publicized the workshop on Twitter and LinkedIn, Ledermanwrote on the Surly Subgroup tax blog that organizers would prioritize papers on tax topics of interest in multiple countries.
With speakers Zooming in from Boston College, the University of Oxford, and the University of Lisbon, among others, the workshop affirmed that with increased communication technology — applied because of the threat of COVID-19 — geographic boundaries are removed.
Lederman called the ability to include people from all over the world a “silver lining” of the switch to an online format forced by the pandemic. ...
Some Americans will be facing big tax bills this year from states where they spent very little time living or working.Delaware, Nebraska, New York, and Pennsylvania have traditionally claimed income taxes from people who aren’t residents but work in offices there—and Arkansas and Massachusetts this year joined their ranks.
This has meant that some workers have had to pay state taxes in two states on the same income. The issue is even more acute this year as people working remotely because of the pandemic will have spent even less time in the states they’re having to pay taxes to.
This week New Hampshire accused Massachusetts of “attempting to pick the pocket of our citizens” and filed a case with the US Supreme Court over this issue. And New York updated its FAQ documents to make even clearer that it expects remote workers to pay up.
The Trump administration has a dirty little secret: It’s not just planning to increase taxes on most Americans. The increase has already been signed, sealed and delivered, buried in the pages of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. ... The increases, unfairly aimed at the vast majority of Americans who are disproportionately suffering in the pandemic, will cause even more hardship. They must be stopped.
The real estate industry has long enjoyed uniquely favorable tax treatment — thanks in part to Mr. Trump’s actions before and after he became president. ...
“The real estate industry has enjoyed the most lucrative tax breaks for decades,” said Victor Fleischer, a tax law professor at the University of California, Irvine, and former chief tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee. The industry “thinks of the tax code as a basket of goodies to feast on rather than a financial obligation of doing business.”
Most Americans accept the common-sense case for progressive taxation: Those who have more ought to contribute more to the society that is the foundation of their prosperity.
In most American states, however, the distribution of taxation is actually regressive. Those who earn less money pay a higher share of income than the rich in state and local taxes.
Voters in Illinois and Arizona, two of the states where taxation is most regressive, now have the chance to make the tax system a little more fair. Ballot measures in both states would shift more of the burden of taxation onto wealthier residents. In California, where the overall distribution of taxation is already progressive, voters can make a change for the better.
A more progressive approach to taxation is necessary to counterbalance the rise of economic inequality, which has reached the highest levels since the 1920s. This imbalance undermines the nation’s foundational commitment to the equality of opportunity, weighs on economic growth and exacerbates political tensions. ...
U.S. tax officials have thrown a historic one-two punch at wealthy Americans hiding money offshore.
On Oct. 15, they announced that Robert Smith, the 57-year-old private-equity billionaire who founded Vista Equity Partners, admitted he criminally evaded taxes on more than $200 million of income from 2000 through 2015 by using secret foreign accounts in the Caribbean and Switzerland. Mr. Smith, who is famous for announcing at Morehouse College’s graduation that he would pay off student loans for the class of 2019, will pay $139 million to the Internal Revenue Service in taxes and penalties. He will also forgo claims to $182 million in deductions for charitable donations, which could add more than $65 million to what he owes the IRS. But he won’t be prosecuted.
At the same time, the U.S. officials charged Robert Brockman, a Houston-based billionaire and software CEO who was the sole investor in Mr. Smith’s first private-equity fund, with hiding about $2 billion of capital-gains income from the IRS in secret offshore accounts from 2000 through 2018. Mr. Brockman, 79 years old, pleaded not guilty and was released on $1 million bond.
With front pages devoted to the continuing spread of the coronavirus and with the election so close, it is easy to forget about the ongoing controversy over Trump’s taxes. It is even easier to think that the case no longer matters since an anonymous leaker provided the New York Times with the tax returns sought by New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance, and the Times is sharing that information with the public. Still, it is worth noticing that a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit’s Court of Appeals has just dealt Donald Trump another blow in his effort to prevent his tax accountants, Mazars, from giving his tax returns and related documents to a New York grand jury. The panel judges unanimously agreed with the District Court’s determination that Trump’s effort to prevent the release of his records fails because his second amended complaint (or SAC) failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted. Yet, as both Trump and Vance realize, the grand jury’s ability to get the documents it subpoenaed matters almost as much as it did before the Times’ stories appeared.
Trump has repeatedly asserted that the documents the Times has are false. But if the returns the Times has are genuine and their reporting on them is accurate, they describe situations where Trump’s efforts to secure tax advantages are so aggressive that they come close to and may cross the line that separates the legal from illegal. However, standing alone the information the Times disclosed does not prove illegality. The Mazars subpoena, however, demands documents that might. These include not just Trump’s tax returns, but supporting documents which in conjunction with the returns could show that Trump or members of his family knowingly committed crimes. Information Vance could acquire might reveal which lenders, including foreign interests, loaned Trump money on what terms, and whether Trump’s accountants cautioned Trump about the questionable legality of deductions he claimed. Also, having verified copies of the original documents might be essential should Vance want to introduce any of these documents in a criminal prosecution. ...
I see no good legal argument for why the Supreme Court should accept Trump’s appeal.
Today the Treasury Department published the names of individuals who renounced their U.S. citizenship or terminated their long-term U.S. residency (“expatriated”) during the third quarter of 2020.
The number of published expatriates for the quarter was 732. The total number of names published during the 3 quarters so far this year equals 6,047. Even without including the fourth quarter, 2020 is already a record year for names published.
Having recently stated his desire to leave California, Kiss bassist Gene Simmons has placed his Beverly Hills home on the market, with an asking price of $22 million.
The listing, held by the Altman Brothers of Douglas Elliman, call it a "palatial estate" and an "incredible one of a kind 16,000 square-foot mansion." It features seven bedrooms and bathrooms with a 40-foot foyer, and the 1.84-acre property contains a pool with a 60-foot water slide, full-size tennis court and parking for 35 cars. The house was shown extensively on Gene Simmons: Family Jewels, his reality show that ran on A&E between 2006 and 2012. ...
He'll be moving to another property he owns, a 24-acre estate near Mount Ranier in Washington, due to the lack of a state income tax, his expressed reason for leaving California. “California and Beverly Hills have been treating folks that create jobs badly and the tax rates are unacceptable,” he said earlier this week. “I work hard and pay my taxes and I don’t want to cry the Beverly Hills blues but enough is enough.”
In President Trump’s telling, he is a committed philanthropist with strong ties to many charities. “If you don’t give back, you’re never ever going to be fulfilled in life,” he wrote in “Trump 101: The Way to Success,” published at the height of his “Apprentice” fame.
And according to his tax records, he has given back at least $130 million since 2005, his second year as a reality TV star.
But the long-hidden tax records, obtained by The New York Times, show that Mr. Trump did not have to reach into his wallet for most of that giving. The vast bulk of his charitable tax deductions, $119.3 million worth, came from simply agreeing not to develop land — in several cases, after he had shelved development plans.
Three of the agreements involved what are known as conservation easements — a maneuver, popular among wealthy Americans, that typically allows a landowner to keep a property’s title and receive a tax deduction equal to its appraised value. In the fourth land deal, Mr. Trump donated property for a state park.
Michelle Lyon Drumbl, Robert O. Bentley Professor of Law and director of the Tax Clinic at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, has been appointed to a one-year term as interim dean of the law school effective July 1, 2021.
Drumbl succeeds Brant Hellwig, who has served as dean since 2015 and recently announced his intention to step down at the end of the current academic year.
W&L President William C. Dudley and Interim Provost Elizabeth Goad Oliver announced Drumbl’s appointment, noting that a national search for a new law dean will take place during the 2021-22 academic year.
“I am pleased that Michelle has agreed to serve in this critical role,” said Dudley. “Her clinical and teaching experience and wide-ranging service to the university will be invaluable in her leadership of the law school during this time of transition. I look forward to working with her next year as we search for our next law dean.”
Drumbl joined the law school faculty in 2007. She holds a B.A. in political science from Emory University, a J.D. from the George Washington University School of Law, and an LL.M. in taxation from New York University School of Law.
This year, each of us has lost something. I am fortunate that my biggest loss has been my faith in our tax system.
In 2014, Eric Garner died at the hands of police officers after being suspected of evading taxes by selling cigarettes without tax stamps. That same year, Donald Trump was also suspected of evading income taxes. But unlike Garner, who was killed by police, Trump reached a favorable legal settlement with the IRS.
The New York Times recently revealed that Trump had not engaged in “smart” tax planning as he had boasted during his 2016 presidential campaign but seems to have simply lied to secure a $72.9 million refund. And, thanks to a highly successful effort by Republicans to weaken the IRS, Trump has gotten away with it for years.
Tax law has long been more a secular religion than a job for me. It embodies the commitment we make to one another as Americans to support our shared values by funding our schools and our troops and caring for our most vulnerable. ...
Among all the horrors we have seen in recent months, I am embarrassed to say that a trivial detail has haunted me. George Floyd’s death came after he fell under suspicion of spending a counterfeit $20 bill. ... We all witnessed the swift, ruthless response to George Floyd’s $20 bill and to Eric Garner’s cigarettes. But after years of controversy, almost nothing seems to have been done about Trump’s suspected multimillion-dollar heist. ...
More than 30,000 nonprofit organizations in the U.S. have had their tax-exempt status automatically revoked by the Internal Revenue Service since May, Democratic lawmakers wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, after an “apparent error” by the IRS may have erroneously revoked thousands of organizations’ tax-exempt status. ...
The tax system has been used with increasing frequency as a social policy tool to administer social programs. From the Earned Income Tax Credit to the recent Economic Impact Payments, the IRS has been asked to do more with an ever decreasing budget. While the tax system may be an attractive vehicle to administer certain payments or benefits, it can also pose challenges. Panelists will examine the history of the tax code as a way to administer social programs. Panelists will then evaluate certain programs and discuss some advantages and disadvantages of administering these programs through the tax code. In particular, panelists will discuss the recent Economic Impact Payments and some of the challenges with administering these payments successfully. Lastly, panelists will propose some changes and alternatives to the way programs are administered to better serve the communities that are most in need of these benefits.
[Mark] Zuckerberg has chosen to embark on a decidedly dicey political crusade: an attempt to touch the so-called third rail of California politics — the state’s 40-year-old landmark tax law — in the most expensive electoral play of the billionaire’s career.
Zuckerberg has been waging a costly and risky political battle for more than a year against California’s Proposition 13, the law that critics say has hamstrung the state’s economy by capping its property taxes, and thus underfunding two priorities of Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan: schools and housing. While other tech leaders have conspicuously avoided weighing in until the very last minute, if at all, Zuckerberg stuck his neck out early and has now spent almost $11 million — including $4.5 million more just this month — on the cause, raising the stakes for Election Day.
Zuckerberg is backing what is called the “split roll” reform measure through his and his wife’s philanthropy, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. For the past year, he has been a key player behind the scenes and the only major Silicon Valley leader who has publicly endorsed it. And because he has been so alone in this effort, the vote on Prop 13 reform in some ways serves as a test of his and his ambitious philanthropy’s political muscle. ...
David Lyford-Smith is an expert at solving spreadsheet mysteries. Once, in a previous job, he was sent a payroll form to look over for a new starter. It had the number 40,335 in a random box, and payroll wasn’t clear why it was there. “So they assumed it was a joining bonus for the employee and drew up a draft pay slip with a £40,335 bonus,” he says. But, when it comes to spreadsheets, assumptions can be costly.
Lyford-Smith isn’t just a spreadsheet enthusiast. He’s the technical manager for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), running its Excel community group — and as such has always been suspicious of numbers in that range. “That’s how Excel stores dates, as serial numbers,” he says. He was right: that wasn’t a generous signing bonus, but the new hire’s starting date.
Lyford-Smith is part of a community of accountants, auditors and Excel power users who have joined forces in a quiet battle against illogical formulas, copy-and-paste errors, and structural chaos that cause data carnage.
Last week, the government stumbled into its own spreadsheet nightmare when it admitted contact-tracing efforts were stymied by a simple data processing mistake. They’re not the first to fall victim to the curse of Excel – and they won’t be the last either. ...
Research suggests more than 90 per cent of spreadsheets have errors, and half of spreadsheet models used in large businesses have “material defects”. Given some 750 million people use Excel globally, there are plenty of errors needing attention. One prominent researcher calls spreadsheets the dark matter of corporate IT. And that’s why people like Lyford-Smith have become defenders of the spreadsheet, mitigating the risks by fixing everyone else’s mistakes. ...
When Americans recently learned how little President Trump has paid in taxes in the past 15 years and how he benefited from financial maneuvers, it reinforced the widespread belief that the rich don’t pay their fair share. Lost in the outrage is the fact that the tax provisions that allowed Mr. Trump to trim his tax bill were probably not illegal or the results of tax schemes concocted by anti-tax legislators.
Those provisions, and many others like them, delivered exactly what their drafters intended: They are engineered to benefit certain kinds of taxpayers — and most Americans are not among them. ...
[I]f your vision is for a more equitable system that can actually be enforced by the I.R.S., what we really need is a simpler and fairer tax code. Some of the current rules are good, but many are political giveaways to special interests. Telling those rules apart is actually harder than it seems, but there are some obvious places to start.
Instead of spending the money, why not cut out the government middleman and not collect the taxes? In 2020 the personal income tax was expected to raise $1.81 trillion and the corporate income tax $260 billion, for a total of $2.07 trillion. For a little more than $2 trillion, Congress could suspend the personal and corporate income tax for a year.
Instead of spending the money, why not cut out the government middleman and not collect the taxes? In 2020 the personal income tax was expected to raise $1.81 trillion and the corporate income tax $260 billion, for a total of $2.07 trillion. For a little more than $2 trillion, Congress could suspend the personal and corporate income tax for a year.
International negotiators said on Monday that they would not reach agreement this year on how and where to tax technology giants like Google and Facebook, as talks remain hindered by the pandemic and an ongoing dispute between the United States and other wealthy nations.
World governments have failed to agree to new rules on taxing the profits of multinational companies, a long-running point of tension between the U.S. and Europe over levies paid by the likes of Apple Inc. and Google and one that has raised the threat of trans-Atlantic tariffs. ... [T]he Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the forum for the talks, said on Monday that governments have failed so far to agree on new rules.