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.
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.
Constitution Day is September 17. That’s the day in 1787 that the United States Constitution was signed by delegates to the Constitutional Convention.
Here’s a question to ponder for Constitution Day: would a federal wealth tax, suggested by some politicians, be constitutional? There are credible opinions on both sides of the question.
And while I’m on the subject of politicians’ tax proposals, it’s still crickets from that senator who said he wants a tax on unrealized capital gains. Remember I predicted that he would probably never provide the details of how his proposal would work? That’s because it won’t work.
Actually, the general subject of my August Estate Planning Law Report is something you should deal with, so that your loved ones don’t have to: instructions on funeral and burial. The situation that I hope you don’t have to confront is what happens if there is a disagreement about this often sensitive subject. If you deal with it, then there shouldn’t be any disagreement. Does that make sense?
In the Report I also provide information that I hope will be useful to you on the always timely topic of telephone scams. Regular readers know that’s a topic that I keep up with, because the scammers aren’t going to go away.
Read all about it in my Estate Planning Law Report for August, now posted in the publications section at deconcinimcdonald.com.
It’s no surprise that the idea of calling income tax exclusions and deductions “tax expenditures” came from a federal bureaucrat, is it? The idea is based on the notion, as explained in an article linked at the TaxProf Blog, that all income, with only certain theoretically defined exceptions, is the tax base.
THERE’S A GUY RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT WHO IS SERIOUSLY ADVOCATING FOR A UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME; IT’S STILL A REALLY BAD IDEA
I’m not going to link to any news items about him, because I don’t want to do anything that will promote him or his ideas. I’m mentioning it because I want to do what I can to spread the word that universal basic income is a bad idea whose time has not come and never will. Just because a guy running for president is promoting it doesn’t mean it has any merit.
What’s worse, the guy wants to pay for the universal basic income by imposing a value added tax in the United States. That’s an idea that has its own major problems, as I have pointed out before.
I am often critical of law review articles. Usually it’s because I think the writers have an insufficient grasp of the potential real-world effects of their ideas.
A law review article linked at TaxProf Blog (which is where I usually read about them) last week seems different. It sounds like a straightforward analysis and proposed fix of the federal tax code treatment of sales of interests in partnerships.
Yeah, partnership tax. For me, the final frontier.
I was interested to see that Los Angeles County is still doing “cash for grass,” a program to encourage removal of lawns as a water-saving measure. I wrote about that a long time ago because I was interested in the tax and land use law implications of it.
The author of the blog post linked above thinks there is irony in the fact that L.A. is paying people to remove grass while the smog there worsens. I’m no expert, but I thought the main things that make smog harmful are ozone and particulates, and I don’t think that having more green plants does anything to reduce those.
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.