Attorney-at-Law

Archive for December, 2020|Monthly archive page

BLOWING OFF 2020

In Uncategorized on 12/31/2020 at 20:02

The Ogden Sunseteers’ Annual Report to Congress is available. Note that the average wait from Form 211 to payout is 3,229 days; that’s eight years ten months (count ’em, eight years ten months) to pay. And the number of actual payouts amount to 5% of total 211s handled.

Of course Chief Whistler Lee D. Martin (a delightful luncheon companion) laments that “… as the Tax Court has noted, whistleblowers submit numerous claims based entirely on publicly available information—some whistleblowers have submitted hundreds of such claims. To date, the Whistleblower Office has sought to process and respond to all claims filed by whistleblowers. While it will continue to do so, the Whistleblower Office will also continue to look for ways to address duplicative or non-meritorious claims in a summary fashion, both to focus its administrative resources better and to guard against the unnecessary or inadvertent disclosure of confidential taxpayer return information.” Report, at pp. 12-13.

I can’t cite just now to the relevant cases, as DAWSON prevents that. But serial blowers do clog the road to riches.

And the Chief Whistler points with pride to the new hook-up with the Alcohol and Tobacco revenooers. Of course, the Sunseteers went teletubby on account of Corona (the virus, not the beer).

Check out the report before you break out the Champagne.

I’D RATHER NOT BE RIGHT

In Uncategorized on 12/31/2020 at 15:44

I cannot repeat the words of Henry Clay, the Great Compromiser, who said he would rather be right than President, and who was neither.

The arrival of the new, improved (now put up the real website), jim-dandy DAWSON fully justifies my comment back on 10/12/20 (see my blogpost that date “Up Dawson’s Creek”), namely, viz., and to wit, “Given the schemozzle that occurred when the jazzy new homepage was unleashed in July, I can just see what December 28 will bring us, when the Genius Baristas push the ‘ENTER’ key. ‘Shambolic’ isn’t even close.”

I would a lot sooner be compelled to eat my words without Worcestershire sauce. A magnificent new, user-friendly, all-encompassing, accessible even to the ham-fisted touch of the most technophobic Luddite, lightning-fast, beyond-state-of-the-art site would have convulsed me with glee. I would have groveled before the Genius Baristas, proclaiming them the heirs of Prometheus, who “brought the fire that hath proved to mortals a means to mighty ends.”

But what we got approaches the current political scene, where I will not tread.

Happy New Year.

AULD LANG SYNE

In Uncategorized on 12/30/2020 at 18:38

I waited to make certain, but sure enough, the old United States Tax Court website, https://ustaxcourt.gov, has vanished from sight. As a much finer writer than I put it, “The rest is silence. Now cracks a noble heart.”

Still, let us raise a glass to the old hangout. And repeat the words of Scotland’s Greatest:

“And there’s a hand,
my trusty fiere!
and gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.”

Ladies and gentlemen, charge your glasses! Here’s to the old website!

SUPPORT

In Uncategorized on 12/29/2020 at 12:41

I had mentioned that I contacted DAWSON support at the same time I contacted Public Affairs, concerning the publication of daily Tax Court orders. Here is Support’s reply in its entirety.

“Hello,

“In fact that feature is coming soon to DAWSON. We don’t publicly comment on our roadmap of features, but we do hope to have this available in the very near future as others have similar requests a well. We are keeping this ticket open, and we will update you when this feature is available.”

I am delighted that mine is not the only voice crying in the wilderness. I should very much like to know who else raised a similar question. Perhaps we can gather for a combined assault on The Rock of Svithjod.

FUTILE CONTROVERSIES

In Uncategorized on 12/28/2020 at 10:54

I forget who wrote it, or to whom s/he referred, but the gist was “she could have lived in quiet old age, rather than engaging herself in futile controversies.”

So could I. When I started blogging ten (count ’em, ten) years ago, I had already reached full retirement age. I was still able to enjoy practicing law, and had the long-desired luxury of being able to say “no” to a client or matter I didn’t want.

Not since my days as copy editor, and a sometime columnist and music reviewer, on the college newspaper had I given any thought to a journalistic sideline, much less a career. So when, at my daughter’s suggestion, I started blogging as an extension of my practice, I hardly intended it to become a second career.

Like Topsy, it “just growed.” Thus, the full realization that I had turned an unexpected corner wasn’t brought home to me until a fanatic’s attack in a foreign country shook me, and I wrote in my blogpost “Je Suis Charlie,” 1/9/15, “I am a journalist. The Cyber Age has made every blogger a journalist, quite as much as our colleagues of the hard copy and radio/television.”

So if my reaction to the Orders blackout on the new, improved (ya, you betcha), jim-dandy Tax Court website seems a bit much, it’s because we journos are getting hammered for telling the truth, especially to those who don’t want to hear it or read it or see it.

I need not find examples from Malta, the People’s Republic of China, or the Russian Federation. I need only look at my own country, my own city, to find plenty.

As I wrote in 2015, “This being a non-political blog, I did not want to jump into a fray that I can fight elsewhere. And that we all should fight, wherever and whenever.

“The matter here, however, transcends politics. I want to add my voice in this place to ‘Je Suis Charlie’.”

So, instead of living in quiet old age, I will now embitter my life with futile controversies. Because I never much cared for living in quiet old age.

MAYBE NEXT YEAR

In Uncategorized on 12/28/2020 at 09:51

Those of us whose loyalties to sports teams approach religious fervor are well-acquainted, it may be too well-acquainted, with the words that appear at the head hereof.

The new, improved (????)(yeah, roger that), jim-dandy Tax Court website rolled out today. I eagerly logged in (after a couple tries; hi, Judge Holmes) to see what the Genius Baristas had wrought.

The Opinions link told me there would be no opinions today. I was surprised.

But that was nothing to my astonishment that the dropdown for Opinions & Orders had no link to Orders. Apparently the new, improved (ya gotta be kidding), jim-dandy Tax Court website makes no provision for listing each day’s orders and providing the texts thereof. It seems the only way one can find out if any order has issued is to search by name of petitioner.

How one is to know if there is a new petitioner is nowhere stated.

I inquired of Public Affairs, who did timely return my phonecall, if the old system of posting each day’s orders would return. I was told possibly early in 2021. There were additions and improvements under consideration.

I asked if the public generally had been asked before the present system (giving it the benefit of the doubt) was inaugurated. I was told that selected pro ses, certain Chosen Few practitioners, and the American Bar Association were consulted. No journalists.

I somewhat forcefully suggested that the next time Tax Court elects to fix what isn’t broken they might ask those of us who cover the Court, or whose practice depends upon being up-to-date whether or not they practice in the Court, whose shoes may not be as white as those of the Chosen Few, but who are in the trenches every day.

In the meantime, I am out of business. I’ll be back. Maybe next year.

BEFORE I COMMENT

In Uncategorized on 12/28/2020 at 09:04

I know my readers are expecting some comment on the new DAWSON website from me. I must ask their indulgence. I am awaiting a callback from Public Affairs, and an e-mail response from dawson.support@ustaxcourt.gov, in answer to some questions I have about the new, improved (?), jim-dandy electronic system.

In absence of either reply, it would be premature for me to comment.

But I promise a Taishoff blogpost by close of business New York time today, whether or not I receive either.

LITERAL LAST-MINUTE FILING

In Uncategorized on 12/27/2020 at 16:20

My colleague Peter Reilly, CPA, thus-entitled a suggested entry in his “Best Tax Court Decision of 2020” competition. See my blogpost “The Reilly Award,” 12/1/20. I think he may have meant “Opinion”, as Decisions are final judgments with numbers attached, whereas Opinions are statements of the legal bases therefor. Howbeit, there now seems to be three (count ’em, three) entrants.

But US Tax Court, not to be outdone, has a literal last-minute filing of its own.

At 1:05 p.m., EST, this date, there arrived in my inbox a missive thus entitled: “An account has been set up for you with the U.S. Tax Court”.

Logging on, meeting with only slightly less difficulty than installing Big Sur, I discovered I had arrived at the headwaters of Dawson’s Creek, and did a “stout Cortez.”

With fewer than twenty-four hours before Monday’s scheduled opening of the floodgates, I await with bated breath the tsunami from The Glasshouse.

Log on, tune in, and stand back.

KNEE-JERK

In Uncategorized on 12/25/2020 at 21:18

This is a common affliction of judges, when confronted with a motion to disqualify opposing counsel. ABA Model Rule 3.7 flashes before their eyes, and, like “stout Cortez,” they look “with a wild surmise.” But unlike stout Cortez, they are not silent, whether on “a peak in Darien” or anywhere else.

I’ve blogged this before. See my blogposts “A Non-Christmas Carol,” 12/23/13, “The Worthless Affidavit,” 9/8/14, and “Read the Whole Thing,” 9/25/17.

As USTC is still locked-down and locked-up until some unspecified time on December 28, 2020 (cf. Mark 13:32), I turn to one of our four (count ’em, four) New York State intermediate appellate courts, this one being the busiest appeals court in the United States, the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department.

Footnote: Don’t try to figure out our New York State court system. It is impervious to logic. Our lowest court of general jurisdiction is the Supreme Court; there is one in and for each of our sixty-two (count ’em, sixty-two) counties. Appeals from these (and some other courts, like Surrogate’s and Court of Claims) go to one of the Appellate Divisions. Our highest State Court is the Court of Appeals. Second Department covers Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, and Putnam counties, or jurisdictions comprising rather more than one-half the State’s population.

Howbeit, here’s Empire Med. Svcs. of LI, P.C. v. Sharma, 2020 N.Y. Slip. Op. 07545, 12/16/20. The plaintiff’s attorney is an MD and an attorney, and is representing himself. It’s not a tax case, so the particulars are irrelevant here. What is relevant is that the other side objects.

While right to counsel is not unlimited, a party seeking to toss must show the testimony of the opposing party’s counsel is necessary to his or her case, and such testimony would be prejudicial to the opposing party.

In this case, the defendants failed to show what testimony they would need from plaintiffs’ counsel, and that it would hurt the MD attorney’s clients if he did testify. The clients said otherwise.

“Moreover, in opposition to the motions, C averred that disqualification of X would cause a substantial hardship on him, which constitutes an exception to the rule 3.7 of the Rules of Professional Conduct….” Empire Med. Svcs., op. cit. (Names omitted).

Maybe so Tax Court Judges might could consider if the harm to the petitioner’s case might outweigh the possible impact of the attorney’s testimony. Especially where there’s no jury to be confused or misled.


 

BEST HOLIDAY WISHES – AGAIN

In Uncategorized on 12/24/2020 at 12:16

To save time, see my blogpost “Best Holiday Wishes,” 12/24/19.