Law Feed

Sports fans tend to be, well, fanatic. To many, it's what a player does during the game, not his or her off-field antics that matter. Moment of the Champions League final with FC Barcelona's Leo Messi, left, going against Patrice Evra of Juventus at Olympiastadion in Berlin on June 6, 2015. (Photo by Biser Todorov via Wikimedia Commons) That kind of no-questions-asked support was what the Barcelona football -- or soccer, as most Americans call the sport -- team was counting on in the wake of its star player's tax evasion conviction. Public outreach, tax backlash: Last week after Lionel... Read more →


The Founding Fathers are getting renewed attention, thanks in large part to the award-winning smash Broadway hit musical "Hamilton." And while George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the titular Alexander Hamilton, who became the new country's first Treasury Secretary, deserve much credit for our independence, on this Fourth of July also save some praise for James Otis, Jr. Quotable colonial attorney: Otis, pictured above, was a lawyer in colonial Massachusetts who contested the law and power of the British by arguing that Writs of Assistance, what we now call search warrants, were a form of tyranny. He represented 53 Boston merchants... Read more →


Work-related moving expenses are tax deductible. You don't even have to itemize. The claim is made as one of the adjustments to income, generally referred to as an above-the-line deduction, right on the long Form 1040. Vintage moving van | Alden Jewell via Flickr But don't think just because this is a relative easy tax write-off that the Internal Revenue Service will just give the claim a cursory glance. IRS examiners will be looking. Just as Giliard Schwartz. A really big move: The San Antonio, Texas, woman claimed $330,000 in moving expenses on her 2012 tax return. Instead of that... Read more →


Federal drug officials are considering removing marijuana's Schedule 1 classification, reports USA Today. A DEA agent carries confiscated marijuana plants to be destroyed. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) decision, which is expected this summer, would make it easier for researchers to work with the plant. Currently, weed is in the same legal category as heroin, LSD and bath salts. As a Schedule 1 drug, marijuana is deemed to have "no currently accepted medical treatment use." Residents and lawmakers in 24 states and the District of Columbia disagree; they permit some form of medical marijuana use. Recreational weed and taxes: Colorado,... Read more →


Go big or go home. That's a common mantra down here in Texas. A variation applied this week in a federal bankruptcy courtroom in Big D. The judge there ruled that a former Lone Star billionaire's big attempt to shelter money offshore means he owes the Internal Revenue Service a big bill. Sam Wyly, a once legendary Dallas businessman, philanthropist and one of the wealthiest men in the country (shown at right on the October 2015 cover of D CEO magazine), was found on May 10 to have defrauded the IRS by shuffling assets among a network of offshore trusts... Read more →


The 2016 presidential campaign has been an unusual one in many ways. The so-called political establishment has been under fire on both the Democratic and Republican sides. Usually reliable pollsters and pundits have seen their projections upended by a new type of electorate. And social media has become a major player in the race for the White House. But one thing hasn't changed. The presumptive GOP nominee is as reluctant in 2016 to release his federal tax returns as was the 2012 candidate. This year, it's Donald J. Trump who says he won't release his tax returns until the Internal... Read more →


A little more than a month ago, inquiring tax eyes were focused on Panama. Specifically, folks were curious about a law firm in that Central American nation that allegedly helps the wealthy stash cash in global accounts that are out of reach of their nations' tax collectors. ICIJ has produced a video, The Panama Papers: Victims of Offshore, that shows what the organization says are the unseen victims behind the email chains, invoices and documents that make up the Panama Papers and the shadowy offshore industry. A couple of U.S. states, Nevada and Wyoming, were named as international tax haven... Read more →


Tom Brady could be sitting out the start of the 2016 National Football League season. Tom Brady taking the field in Denver Colorado, on Dec. 18, 2011, as the Patriots and Broncos were about to play. Photo by Jeffrey Beall (Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons. If the star quarterback does miss the first four games of the 2015 NFL season in connection with Deflategate, he won't be alone in paying the price. Tax collectors in Arizona and Massachusetts also will be out some money. Commissioner vindicated: This morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit... Read more →


There are many nicknames for marijuana. Weed. Pot. Mary Jane. Cash cow. OK, that last one isn't an official moniker for pot. But it is how many state legislators see the mood altering herb. And it could be a reason why 4/20 could one day be celebrated nationwide. Photo by GoToVan via Flickr CC Pot's tax payoff: Nearly $700 million of medical and recreational marijuana was sold in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize recreational use of pot, in 2014. Data through last November shows that the 2015 numbers have already passed the 2014 mark, with nearly $895... Read more →


A group of South Florida rappers allegedly created a music label as a front for a massive tax refund fraud ring. Click image to watch the MoneyKing_GroundUP111 video on YouTube. Maybe the erstwhile rappers should change their musical moniker to Doin' Time since six of them were sentenced to jail last week in connection with the tax fraud scheme. Harlan Decoste of Miramar, Florida, who went by the alias Money King, created the label, according to the federal charges filed against him and his confederates back in August 2015 in the Southern District of Florida. Decoste received the longest prison... Read more →


Diane L. Kroupa was appointed as judge to the U.S. Tax Court in June 2013. Her term was supposed to have run for 15 years, but in June 2014 she retired early. This week Kroupa, 60, was indicted on two counts each of tax evasion, filing false returns and obstruction of an IRS audit. Her husband, Robert E. Fackler, 62, also was indicted on the same six tax-related charges. The couple is accused of understating their income by approximately $1 million on tax filings for the 2004 through 2010 tax years. Much of that too-low amount was arrived at by... Read more →


Donald Trump has turned to taxes to divert attention from his restrictive, then recanted, comments on women's reproductive rights. Donald and Melania Trump in pre-presidential campaign days, heading into an Oscar de la Renta fashion show in New York City in September 2006. (Photo by Boss Tweed via Flickr) I hate to help him out, but taxes. Trump's campaign website has posted a letter from a couple of his attorneys addressing the audit of his federal tax returns. Unfortunately for the tax curious, the letter doesn't shed any light on what's in recent Trump tax returns. Instead, Sheri Dillon and... Read more →


If you work in the world's oldest profession, finances can be problematic. First, your job is illegal, so you don't want to do anything to draw unwanted attention to your line of work. Neither do your clients. So escorts, prostitutes and other types of sex workers tend to operate on a cash basis. That, however, raises the question of what to do with all those loose dollars. Even with today's minuscule interest rates, you don't want to keep cash under a mattress. Tracing cash transactions: Banks, despite all their problems, are generally safer than having a lot of dollars stashed... Read more →


There are very few times when folks are on the Internal Revenue Service's side, but this might just be one of them. The IRS has slapped pharmaceutical bad boy Martin Shkreli with a tax lien totaling more than $4.6 million. Former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli in happier times. Shkreli became a global villain last year when he jacked up the U.S. market price of Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill overnight, a 5,556 percent increase. The anti-parasitic drug is used in AIDS treatment and at was produced by Turing Pharmaceuticals, which Shkreli founded and served as chief... Read more →


North Pole officials have decided to tax pot. No, not that North Pole, although that would explain why Santa eats so many cookies in a single night. Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska. (Photo by Nicole Bizinski/Santa Claus House) We're talking North Pole, Alaska, a community of around 2,200 just southeast of Fairbanks. The treasury of the town with the official motto "where the spirit of Christmas lives year 'round" got an early gift on Feb. 1 when city council members decided to tax both wholesale and retail marijuana transactions. The 6 percent sales tax will apply to pot... Read more →


I live in gun-crazy Texas. Some folks would say the word "gun" is unnecessary. I'm Lone Star State born and bred, but many days I agree with that disparaging assessment, more so now that we have full open carry of weapons. But for every Wild West wannabe piece of legislation, there are acts to try to counter gun violence across the country. At the national level, President Barack Obama just announced executive office steps he plans to take to tighten the nation’s gun laws. Locally, states and cities have taken tougher gun stands with a modicum of success. Last December,... Read more →


The Browns are in Pittsburgh today. That's good news for Cleveland tax officials. On this given Sunday, they don't have to worry about taxing visiting National Football League players. Cleveland officials are revising their jock tax system, through which they've collected money from athletes and entertainers who've come into town to perform over the years. The city lost a court battle over its jock tax methodology and could end up refunding, by one estimate, as much as $2.4 million to previously taxed NFL players. Before it was challenged, Cleveland had taken its tax portion from visiting pro footballers' pockets based... Read more →


The big question when it comes to fantasy sports is are the popular online operations games of skill or gambling? The answer according to New York's top lawyer is gambling. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (right) on Tuesday, Nov. 10, sent cease and desist notices to DraftKings and FanDuel. "Our review concludes that [the company's] operations constitute illegal gambling under New York law," Schneiderman wrote in the letter sent to the two fantasy sports sites. "Our investigation has found that, unlike traditional fantasy sports, daily fantasy sports companies are engaged in illegal gambling under New York law, causing the... Read more →


Marriage means doing things together, even things you hate, like visiting the in-laws, cleaning out the garage and filing taxes. You might be able to let those first two slide, but when it comes to taxes, no such luck. Most couples file a joint tax return. That single Form 1040 is a legal document and if you ignore filing it or mess it up, you'll face consequences worse than your spouse's wrath. Her forced smile makes me think she's not buying what he's saying as they work together on their joint tax return. The Internal Revenue Service considers both spouses... Read more →


Irwin Schiff, the man who mainstreamed the tax protester movement, has died. His family said he passed away on Oct. 16 at a Fort Worth, Texas, hospital affiliated with the federal prison where he was serving, yet again, time for tax evasion. The cause was lung cancer. He was 87. The latest prison sentence was Schiff's third, all of them connected with his claim that income taxes are unconstitutional. Schiff made his anti-tax case in his books, including Federal Mafia: How It Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully Collects Income Taxes (1992); The Great Income Tax Hoax: Why You Can Immediately Stop... Read more →