Amid all the yelling about General Motors’ announcement that it will discontinue manufacturing several passenger car models, I thought it was interesting that the Antiplanner brought up the point that passenger cars haven’t always been configured the way they are today. He points out that pre-1950 passenger cars were more like today’s SUVs in that they had a higher H-point (a term that I had never seen before but that refers to the height of a vehicle’s seating relative to the floor of the vehicle and the road surface).
My guess is that the lower passenger car design that became prevalent in the 1950s was largely a function of aerodynamics, but that’s just a guess. I think the point is that there’s nothing sacrosanct about the way that cars are designed today. If car buyers prefer a different design, why shouldn’t the manufacturers respond accordingly?
There’s news today about a case in which the Supreme Court had to answer this question: what did Congress mean by the term “critical habitat” in the Endangered Species Act?
The court answered the question: “critical habitat” does not include land where the endangered species in question could not currently live. If it’s an area where the species couldn’t live, then it’s not that species’ habitat. All of the justices agreed.
Seems like a common-sense answer to me.
GOOD NEWS ABOUT THE FEDERAL ESTATE AND GIFT TAX IF YOU PLAN ON MAKING SUBSTANTIAL GIFTS BETWEEN NOW AND THE END OF 2025
The basic exclusion amount for the federal estate and gift tax was increased from $5 million to $10 million by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. That amount will increase with inflation (it’s $11.18 million for 2018) through 2025, but it will go back down to $5 million in 2026, with adjustments for inflation.
So what happens if you make taxable gifts totaling, say, $9 million between 2018 and 2025, when the exclusion amount is over $10 million, then die in 2026, when the exclusion has reverted to $5 million? Will the estate tax apply to the gifts you made between 2018 and 2025 in excess of $5 million? That’s a possibility because the estate and gift taxes are calculated using a unified schedule, and you get only one basic exclusion amount. That means you could get hit with a tax of 40% on $4 million worth of gifts that you thought were not taxable because of the higher exclusion amount. That’s a lot of tax.
The IRS has answered the question: no, if you die in 2026 or later, the estate tax will not apply to gifts you made in excess of $5 million between 2018 and 2025. The IRS made this announcement in a news release issued on November 20, IR-2018-229.
Via TaxProf Blog.
I think this guy has said this before, but it’s worth highlighting, to illustrate the fact that just because someone gets elected mayor of New York City doesn’t mean he understands the Constitution, or that he always has good ideas about how a city should be run:
“Look, if I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed[.]”
Does he really think that a city government can, or should be able to, dictate the use of every piece of land within its boundaries?
That’s the question I asked in my Real Estate Law Update for the month of November. In the Update I discuss what I see as possible trends in the way residential real estate transactions are put together.
If you are selling or buying property without (or with) the services of a real estate broker, I can prepare the contract, or help with the contract, the title report, and any or all other aspects of the transaction.
Please go to the link above to read all about it. As always, your comments are welcome.
I came across this item about a celestial phenomenon and just had to share it. The phenomenon is described as a blob of dust orbiting a black hole. The blob is going really, really fast, due to the gravitational pull of the black hole. How fast? According to the author of the linked item, fast enough to travel from Earth to the Moon in a few seconds, or the equivalent of Venus orbiting the Sun in one hour (Venus actually takes about 224 days to orbit the Sun)..
The pictures aren’t actual photos, of course, but the phenomenon has been directly observed. That means that, according to the observers, it’s real.
By Coyote, here.
I’m not sure what to make of this story, but it points out something that has given me some pause recently. With the ubiquity of credit card and debit card use, even for small transactions at remote terminals, like parking meters, how easy is it for thieves to compromise those terminals and obtain the information necessary to fraudulently use the information on your card?
I was surprised to see recently at a football game that they now take credit and debit cards at the concession stand. When did that happen?
The story at the link highlights the problem. You can pay for just about anything, just about anywhere, with a card. There are now many people using mobile card machines. How do you know they are not going to steal your card information?
I don’t claim any particular expertise, but one thought that occurs to me is that with a credit card, you have some protection in that you won’t be held liable for fraudulent charges. With a debit card, on the other hand, the thieves can empty the bank account that is connected to that card. I don’t know if it’s even possible, or how hard it is, for the account holder to get reimbursed when that happens.
My way to minimize this risk, which I have been doing for a long time, is this: I have a credit card with a relatively low limit that I use only at places like gas stations and parking kiosks. I also still pay cash for small transactions wherever possible, like at the concession stand at the football game. They do still take cash there.
Wesley Snipes isn’t done with the IRS yet, or I guess it would be more accurate to say that the IRS isn’t done with Wesley Snipes yet. Snipes asked the IRS to compromise on his tax debt of $23.5 million. I wonder how much of that is penalties and interest. Snipes offered to pay about $840,000. The IRS refused the offer, saying it could reasonably expect to collect about $9.5 million. Snipes took the dispute to the Tax Court, which sided with the IRS.
According to an item in Forbes about Snipes and the Tax Court case, Snipes has been working as an actor since his release from prison. I guess he’s just going to have to keep working until he can make a better offer to the IRS.
I read the Tax Court’s decision. If you want to read it, it’s linked in the item I linked to above. I find it interesting that the Tax Court’s decision makes no mention of the fact that Snipes did prison time for not filing tax returns – the same tax returns that would have reported the income that resulted in the tax he hasn’t paid. I suppose that fact wasn’t mentioned because it wasn’t relevant to the question that the court was asked to decide.
SOME PUNDIT SAID SOMETHING ABOUT HOW DRIVERLESS CARS WON’T SOLVE ALL OF OUR PROBLEMS; I DON’T CARE, HURRY UP ALREADY
I saw the headline that said according to some pundit, driverless cars won’t reduce traffic congestion, but I didn’t bother to read it. I don’t think driverless cars will succeed because they will reduce congestion. I think driverless cars will succeed because of the increased autonomy they will provide. As long as they don’t make congestion worse, that aspect is irrelevant to me.
I have the feeling that most people aren’t interested in urban planning. For some reason I have always thought it is interesting, probably because in general, I am interested in how things work. If my feeling that most people aren’t interested in urban planning is accurate, then most of you probably won’t bother to read this post at The Antiplanner blog about an “urban planning guru” (I didn’t know there was such a person). He’s the pundit that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I have no idea whether he’s right or not, or whether or not he really qualifies as a guru. I do think that people who advocate solutions to “first world problems,” like “urban sprawl,” are tilting at windmills.
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.