Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Lesson From The Tax Court: The Slippery Slope Of Tax Court Review

Nothing makes people want to look more than being told they are not supposed to.

A former NSW Police officer, who a grand jury heard purchased a computer program called "Evidence Eliminator", is at the centre of what law enforcement authorities claim is the largest ever tax evasion case in United States history.

Evatt Tamine, who studied law while working at Sydney's Newtown police station, moved to the tax haven of Bermuda where he set up practice as a barrister in 1999. Australian barrister embroiled in the US's largest tax evasion case

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In a major exclusive involving 60 MINUTES, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The New York Times, reporter Nick McKenzie reveals extraordinary details about a five-nation investigation targeting wealthy Australians accused of tax evasion.

In a major exclusive involving 60 MINUTES, The AgeThe Sydney Morning Herald and The New York Times, reporter Nick McKenzie reveals extraordinary details about a five-nation investigation targeting wealthy Australians accused of tax evasion. Code-named Operation Atlantis, its aim is to recover hundreds of millions of dollars stashed away in faraway banks – money that has been ripped-off from ordinary Australians.

Tech Companies Are Destroying Democracy and the Free Press Matt Stoller, NYT

The US Department of Justice has charged Robert Brockman, the Houston software billionaire, with tax evasion for allegedly hiding $2bn from the government in what prosecutors called the biggest case ever against an American citizen. The justice department also confirmed on Thursday that Robert Smith, the Vista Equity Partners founder, would pay $140m for concealing income offshore over 15 years as part of a non-prosecution agreement. Jim Lee, the head of the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal tax agency, called the alleged conduct of the two men “brazen”, “intentional” and underlined by “greed”.

Billionaire Robert Brockman charged in $2bn tax evasion case FT

Jack Townsend One Big Fish Indicted and Lesser Big Fish Achieves NPA for Cooperation 

Marketplace, Fact-Checking Harris’ and Pence’s Claims About Taxes:

VP DebateAt the vice presidential debate on Wednesday, Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence sparred over who the Trump administration’s tax reforms wound up benefiting: middle-class families or the rich.

Soon after he entered office, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law, which lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and changed the income level of individual tax brackets, dropping the highest tax bracket from 39.6% to 37%.

 Tax Court (2020)

Today’s post is about how the Tax Court reviews decisions of the IRS Whistleblower Office (WBO).  If you want to report a tax cheat, you have a variety of choices, detailed in this IRS webpage.  Typically, you write a letter or submit a Form 3439-A.  But if you want to also claim an award for blowing the whistle, you must submit a Form 211with the IRS Whistleblower Office (WBO).  That is because the WBO is the office in the IRS that decides whether the information you gave resulted in additional collections of tax.  If it did, you get a cut.  If you don’t like the amount of the award, you can ask the Tax Court to review the WBO’s decision on the amount.

When the WBO decides that you are entitled to no award, however, it could be for a variety of reasons, only some of which are reviewable by the Tax Court.  In John Worthington v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2020-141 (Oct. 8, 2020) Judge Gustafson teaches the difference between those decisions the Tax Court will review and those it will not; it turns on the difference between the words “rejection” and “denial.”  To me, this case represents a wobbly first step onto a slippery slope towards reviewing IRS audit decisions.  That is not what WBO review used to cover but times, they may be a-changing!  Details below the fold.

Lesson From The Tax Court: The Slippery Slope Of Tax Court Review

Each new iPhone CPU has 11.8bn transistors. That’s about half as many as all the CPUs in all the Macs Apple sold when it launched in 1984

How it enters your brain.  Or might

The meaning of a mustache. For Wesley Morris, it’s a way to connect to Blackness, and to a legacy of improving America ... more America 

“Santa Claus is an old overweight man, and most likely has type 2 diabetes. Each of these factors put him in a high-risk group.” — one of several factors considered by Alberto Giubilini (Oxford) in thinking about how Santa should approach his job this coming holiday season

“The weird complexity and variability of smell now turn out vital to understanding the brain” — Ann-Sophie Barwich (Indiana) on the richness, complexity, and fruitfulness of the study of olfaction

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett says she is an “originalist”; is this a defensible form of jurisprudence? — Randy Barnett and Evan Bernick (Georgetown) present an informative “unified theory of originalism”

An unusual philosophy club — the El Paso Community College Philosophy Club’s demographics, interdisciplinarity, welcoming environment, and high level of activity set it apart

“This result dissolves the Fermi paradox” — a 2018 paper argues that the Fermi paradox only arises because the model it’s based on “implictly assume[s] certainty regarding highly uncertain parameters”

A mind-reading philosophy professor takes his shows online — Alexander George (Amherst) has refashioned his mentalist performances for Zoom

38% of survey respondents at least sometimes “thought about or researched further the ethical aspects of a choice” in their lives — according to a survey of engagement with humanities by people in the U.S. while at home during the pandemic (via Robert B. Townsend)