ANOTHER ILLUSTRATION OF THE FREE SPEECH PRINCIPLE THAT THE GOVERNMENT CANNOT DISCRIMINATE BASED ON VIEWPOINT
Tax exemptions are another example of an area where the government can’t discriminate because viewpoints expressed by some exemption recipients may be disfavored. To put it another way, if the government grants a tax exemption to a particular category of entity, the government cannot then deny that exemption to entities that are within the category but that express views that are objectionable. Even if those views are, for example, racist.
For an excellent discourse on the application of free speech jurisprudence to the granting of tax exemptions, I encourage you to read the recent testimony on the subject by Eugene Volokh before the Oversight Committee of the House Ways & Means Committee. He does a great job of explaining why it’s so important that free speech principles be applied correctly in tax administration.
The Maricopa County Assessor has been in the news because he has been indicted for allegedly running an illegal adoption business. I don’t have an opinion on the merits of the charges against him. I can tell you that his alleged crimes have nothing to do with the office to which he was elected. In fact, he was allegedly running the business before he was elected.
What is function of the office to which he was elected, county assessor? The function of the county assessor is to determine the value of all property in the county for tax purposes. That’s essentially it.
Why would someone who is running an allegedly illegal and lucrative business that has nothing to do with property run for the job of county assessor? I have no idea.
At what point does government red tape become so onerous that it amounts to a taking of private property for which the property owner must be compensated under the Fifth Amendment? That has been a much-discussed question for some time now. I know that some people say the answer is never, but there are indications that the courts may be heading in the other direction.
Two recent cases are illustrative. One is a decision that allows local governments to be sued in state court when a property owner claims that regulations amount to a taking. The other is a California case involving the imposition of historical review requirements after the property owner was allowed to demolish the purportedly historic building on his property.
NOW I KNOW WHY RANDY CALIFORNIA’S CLAIM OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT WASN’T BARRED BY THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The answer is in an article discussing the current status of the case. The case is still going on. Randy California’s estate appealed the jury verdict against it, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the jury verdict, and the panel decision is now up for review by the full Ninth Circuit.
What is the answer? The owner of the performance rights to Stairway to Heaven still collects royalties for every performance of the song, and each time they do, they allegedly violate Randy California’s copyright again. As long as people keep broadcasting or purchasing copies of the Led Zeppelin song, the claim that it infringes Randy California’s copyright will still be alive (well, I guess whoever owns the performance rights to Stairway to Heaven could give up those rights, but we know that’s not going to happen, and it will probably be a long time before people finally stop broadcasting or purchasing copies of it).
So, now I can explain why that claim for copyright infringement wasn't barred by the statute of limitations, even though the allegedly infringing song was released in 1971.
If you’re unsure of how to deal with digital assets in your estate plan, my new Estate Planning Law Report might give you a place to start. It’s about the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (the “RUFADAA” for you acronym mavens).
My Estate Planning Law Report, both the current and past issues, along with my Real Estate Law Updates and Tax Law Special Reports, are available for your perusal in the publications section of deconcinimcdonald.com.
A member of the U.S. House of Representatives thinks that unemployment is a result of greed, and that the solution to unemployment is for the government to guarantee a job to everyone. The assumption is, apparently, that a tax on greedy people will produce the revenue to pay the people to whom the government will provide jobs.
I don’t think I have seen any emails like the ones described in a recent IRS news release, but they all follow the same formula: we’re from the IRS, we need information from you, comply or you’ll lose out on this benefit, or, if you don’t comply we’re coming to get you. This particular variation indicates that they want your personal information to issue you a refund.
The IRS response should be familiar to my loyal readers: the IRS does not send emails about refunds, nor does the IRS initiate contact with taxpayers via email, text or social media channels to request personal or financial information.
It looks like it would be messy to eat, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try it: a hunk of fried chicken sandwiched between two donuts (served hot!). According to the report I saw, it’s available on a test basis in Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia. I haven’t seen anything about when it might be available in Arizona.
From the National Constitution Center, a Constitution Day live blog.
The contents of this blog, this web site, and any writings by me that are linked here, are all my personal commentary. None of it is intended to be legal advice for your situation.