In my Estate Planning Law Report for April, I discuss the online registry for living wills and health care powers of attorney. You'll find it here, in the publications section of dmyl.com.
One thing I didn't mention is that if you are going to be admitted to a hospital in Arizona, you will be asked if you have a living will. If you don't, the admitting staff will ask you to complete and sign one as part of the admitting process.
It's much easier to do in the comfort of your attorney's office, so if you know you're going to be hospitalized and you don't have a living will, call me.
“When men get in the habit of helping themselves to the property of others, they cannot be easily cured of it.” Who said it? The New York Times, in 1909, when the 16th Amendment (which authorized the federal income tax) was being debated.
Here’s another one: “. . . a vicious, inequitable, unpopular, impolitic, and socialistic act. . . . the most unreasoning and un-American movement in the politics of the last quarter-century.” The New York Times said that in 1894, when Congress first tried to impose an income tax. That effort was shot down when the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional, leading to the adoption of the 16th Amendment.
I found these quotes in a post on the Freeman blog on the web site of The Foundation for Economic Education.
A final quotation from that FEE blog post (which points out that the first income tax rates, in 1913, ranged from 1% to 7%), by Chief Justice of the United States John Marshall, in 1819: “The power to tax involves the power to destroy.” You’ll also find on the FEE web site an interesting article on the application of that axiom. The article was written in 1976, but is still relevant (maybe even more relevant) today.
“Some [IRS] employees with tax and conduct issues received awards.” That statement is from a March 21, 2014, report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The report says that more than 11,100 IRS employees with “substantiated Federal tax compliance problems” received bonuses totaling over $1 million in cash and more than 10,000 hours of time off “within a year after the IRS substantiated their tax compliance problem.” The report also says that federal law requires “the removal of IRS employees who are found to have intentionally committed certain acts of misconduct, including willful failure to pay Federal taxes.”
I’ll close with this classic understatement from the report: “Thus, while not specifically prohibited, providing awards to employees with conduct issues, especially those who fail to pay Federal taxes, appears to create a conflict with the IRS’s charge of ensuring the integrity of the system of tax administration.”
ON MANY LOANS, DEATH = DEFault
I’m used to the fact that on most home mortgages, if the borrower dies, the lender can call the loan due. I hadn’t heard, however, that the death of a co-signer on a student loan can have the same result.
In my opinion, that’s another good reason to minimize this type of borrowing.
another cheerful tax reminder
“Taxpayers rely on IRS guidance at their own peril.” So said a Tax Court judge, citing earlier decisions by both the Tax Court and the 10th Circuit U. S. Court of Appeals. Read about it here on the TaxProf Blog, a very entertaining source of information on tax and higher education news. Be sure to check out his daily updates on the IRS scandal, now at day 346!
Monday is tax freedom day
Tax Freedom Day is apparently the brainchild of the Tax Foundation. They define it (in an article on their web site) as “the day when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year.” The calculation is simple: divide the total of federal and state taxes by the total of all income, then take the same percentage of the number of days in the year.
The Tax Foundation says that in 2014 Americans will pay $4.5 trillion in taxes, which is 30.2% of total income. 30.2% of 365 is 110.23, so as of Monday, the 111th day of the year, we have earned enough money, collectively, to pay that $4.5 trillion. And the year isn’t even (quite) 1/3 of the way over yet!
If you are thinking about giving your house to your children, read this Wall Street Journal item first.
The item appeared in the print version of the Journal on April 14. It’s a good primer on the pitfalls of making a gift your house to your children, as well as briefly discussing when it might actually make sense.
Keep in mind that there can often be unintended consequences in any transaction that has tax implications. Always seek professional advice first.
A professor at Pepperdine University School of Law did an analysis of LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs of students who enrolled in law schools in the United States in 2013. I like the result he came up with: students who majored in music as undergraduates were among the top students, right up there with economics and philosophy majors.
You’ll find the analysis here. I saw the link to it here.
Of course my music school classmates Paul and Jeff could have told you the same thing. Last I knew, Paul was still playing professionally, but I suspect that the dust on Jeff’s saxophone case is about as thick as the dust on my bassoon case. I do still play the piano, at least.
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.