DID YOU KNOW THAT IN THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY, A CITIZEN CAN BE PROSECUTED FOR INSULTING THE PRESIDENT?
This situation has received some attention, and you may have heard about it, because of the obvious absurdity of it: in Turkey, a man is being prosecuted for comparing the president of the country to Gollum. Now that sounds pretty funny, but behind it is this inescapable fact: that country has a law that makes it illegal to defame the president. According to Lowering the Bar, it’s also illegal to insult the founder of modern Turkey, who has been dead for over 75 years.
Let that sink in for a minute. If you criticize the president, you can be charged with a crime. Who do you think controls the prosecutors in that country? If a prominent citizen, or especially a political opponent, says something about the president that the president doesn’t like, what do you think will happen? How can a country where you can be charged with a crime for saying something about the president be a functioning democracy?
If you’re in the market for real estate, you may want to check out the Arizona Buyer Advisory. You can read all about it in my latest Real Estate Law Update, posted in the publications section of my firm’s web site, deconcinimcdonald.com.
Also included in the Update: a short item about the extra effort I make to be sure all questions are answered before someone signs any will or other estate planning document that I have prepared for them. Educating my clients on how estate planning works is a recurring theme for me. Give it a read, then let me know what you think.
USING OUTSIDE COLLECTION AGENCIES DIDN’T WORK OUT WELL FOR THE IRS BEFORE – WHAT’S GOING TO MAKE THE OUTCOME DIFFERENT THIS TIME?
An article that appeared last week in Bloomberg View told me something I didn’t know about driverless cars: the differing levels of automation that can be expected have apparently been defined and categorized. The author refers to “level four” automation: “where the car drives itself, all the time, with no human input….”
Isn’t that what everybody wants? That’s what I want.
Hat tip: Instapundit.
It’s actually a narrower issue than this Townhall item (linked to by the TaxProf Blog) makes it sound like, but apparently there’s legislation pending in Congress that would expressly exempt from the federal gift tax contributions to certain tax-exempt organizations. This item from the Proskauer Rose law firm’s blog gives a more complete explanation: contributions to charitable organizations are expressly exempted from the gift tax, as are contributions to political organizations, but there is no express gift tax exemption for contributions to so-called 501(c)(4) organizations (“social welfare organizations”).
The dust-up started back in 2011 when the IRS made noises about enforcing the gift tax on contributions to 501(c)(4) organizations. I had forgotten about it until I saw the link to the Townhall item. The IRS didn’t follow through on that threat, and has never enforced the gift tax on such contributions.
The issue has re-surfaced now because someone in Congress thought that it would be a good idea to pass explicit legislation clarifying that contributions to social welfare organizations are not subject to the gift tax. It seems to me that specifying whether or not the gift tax applies to those contributions is a good idea. But as the Townhall item notes, there are apparently some who disagree, and the Senate hasn’t acted on the measure despite the fact that it passed the House without opposition.
Don’t confuse the question of gift tax applicability with the income tax deductibility of contributions to various types of organizations. As I have become accustomed to explaining, the taxability of a transfer under the gift tax is different from the applicability of the income tax. The federal gift tax is a tax on a transfer of an asset. It’s a different tax, based on a fundamentally different concept, from the income tax.
LA CITY GOVERNMENT IS A CONTINUING SOURCE OF BRILLIANT IDEAS FOR CONTROLLING THE BEHAVIOR OF THE CITIZENRY
I have written in the past about great ideas coming out of the city government in Los Angeles, aimed at controlling the behavior of its residents. Here’s another one: a city councilperson wants to use license plate reader data to send an automated letter to (apparently all) car owners whose cars are seen in an area that is supposedly know for solicitation of prostitution.
Better yet, the councilperson deploys the “if you aren’t doing anything wrong, then you have no reason for concern” argument in support of the idea.
MORE ABOUT THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT’S PROPOSAL TO REGULATE WHERE JUNK FOOD CAN BE SOLD AND WHEN IT CAN BE ADVERTISED
On the subject of my recent post about the British government’s proposal to control product placement in the supermarket, we learn from a Business Insider article that the proposal goes even further:
“It wants sweets removed not only from checkout areas at supermarkets but also from sale in clothing shops and other non-food outlets. It calls for a ban on TV ads for any high fat, salt or sugary food, which would include products such as pizza and crisps, not just during children’s broadcasting but during any programme before 9pm.”
Ironically, the day that this news appeared, November 30, was the birthday of Winston Churchill. Does the phrase “turning over in his grave” mean anything to you?
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.