Attorney-at-Law

JUDGES JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN

In Uncategorized on 09/08/2015 at 22:36

Not quite Cyndi Lauper, but echoing her signature song, is The Great Dissenter, a/k/a The Judge Who Writes Like a Human Being, s/a/k/a The Implacable, Imperturbable, Irrefrangable, Indefatigable, Inimitable, Incontrovertible and Incomparable Foe of the Partitive Genitive, Judge Mark V. Holmes, back from summer hols and rarin’ to go with a small-claimer, David William Laudon, 2015 T. C. Sum. Op. 54, filed 9/8/15.

DW is a traveling Minnesota chiropractor. Among his other accomplishments, DW “…made nearly $290,000 in bank deposits from 2007 to 2009 yet reported only a bit less than $210,000 in gross receipts on his returns. He deducted as business expenses for his chiropractic home office a Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and numerous pieces of hair-salon equipment. He also claimed deductions for driving tens of thousands of miles throughout Minnesota and the Dakotas–both to treat patients and to perform an assortment of other services.” 2015 T. C. Sum. Op. 54, at pp. 1-2.

IRS, not amused, blows away most of DW’s claimed deductions and wants accuracy chops.

DW is nothing if not unusual. “Laudon testified that he also makes ‘house calls’ and reported that he racked up between 40,000 and 60,000 miles per year in his business vehicles. He said that his patients often called him a psychiatrist, chauffeur, physician, peace officer, or even a pheasant hunter.” 2015 T. C. Sum. Op 54, at p. 2. (Footnote omitted, but it gave me the title for this blogpost.).

“But not a ghostbuster. The Commissioner rhetorically asserted that some of Laudon’s trips might have made more sense if he was claiming to be a ghostbuster. Laudon then disclaimed any employment as a ghostbuster. In his reply brief the Commissioner conceded that Laudon was not ‘employed or under contract to perform work as a ghostbuster during the tax years at issue in this case.’ We therefore need make no finding on the existence of a market for ‘supernatural elimination’ in west-central Minnesota. See ‘Ghostbusters’ (Columbia Pictures 1984).” 2015 T. C. Sum. Op. 54, Footnote 2, at pp. 2-3.

Fortunately Minnesota is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Seventh Circuit, or these attempts at humor might fall foul of that acerbic jurist, Judge Posner. See my blogpost “There Goes the Neighborhood,” 9/3/13.

Of course, IRS was represented by that formidable legal scholar, John Schmittdiel, Esq. Scholar John was diploma’ed by no less than Judge James S. (“Big Jim”) Halpern in my blogpost “Go To the Head of the Class,” 3/26/14. I had no idea that Scholar John was a stand-up comic as well.

But seriously, folks, DW’s wanderings and peculiar deductions fail for want of substantiation.

“While we accept that Laudon treated patients in his home at least some of the time, we don’t find credible his testimony that his basement was used exclusively for his business. We particularly disbelieve his claim that the Xbox, Wii, big-screen TVs, and other electronics in his basement were used exclusively for chiropractic purposes since this claim conflicts with his much more plausible admission to the IRS examiner during audit that his daughter and his girlfriend’s son would play these video games while he was on the phone.” 2015 T. C Sum. Op. 54, at p. 10. (Footnote omitted).

Once again, the footnote is for fun. “Laudon further undermined his credibility by claiming that he used the Wii and Xbox 360 to keep his patients ‘active and moving.’ These are well-known games whose features are not subject to reasonable dispute and are ‘generally known within the trial court’s territorial jurisdiction.’ Fed. R. Evid. 201(b)(1). One can imagine the Wii–with games such as Wii Bowling and Wii Fit that feature motion-based controllers requiring physical activity from its users–might be used for its physical benefits. But no reasonable person could think that the Xbox 360 could be–Microsoft didn’t introduce the Kinect until late 2010, just in time for Christmas and before the years at issue in this case. Before Kinect, Xbox playing was more of the vegging-out-on-the-couch variety.” 2015 T. C. Sum. Op. 54, at p. 10, Footnote 5.

DW is out, but Judge Holmes certainly had fun. But let’s leave the humor to Steven Colbert’s debut tonight.

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