Posts Tagged ‘taxes’

Microblog 2008-11-08

“Late filing syndrome”

That’s the explanation given by Charles J. O’Byrne’s lawyer for why his client didn’t file income taxes for year after year. I’ve never tried that one myself, but then, I’m not the chief aide to the governor of the state of New York, the way O’Byrne is. He has no plans to resign from his position. (Nicholas Confessore and Jeremy W. Peters, “Governor’s Aide Had ‘Late-Filing Syndrome,’ Lawyer Says”, New York Times, Oct. 23).

Relatedly or otherwise, Carolyn Elefant at Legal Blog Watch notes (Oct. 22) that Harpreet Singh Brar, known to Overlawyered readers for his abusive mass mailing of demand letters to California businesses,

came up with an even better defense to charges of failure to file tax returns on behalf of himself and his professional corporation: ineffective assistance of counsel. Sounds promising, except when you consider that Brar is an attorney who represented himself at trial. On appeal, he’s argued that he did not knowingly waive his right to counsel, and that he may have been under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the waiver. Not surprisingly, the appeals court rejected Brar’s argument. (Source: Metropolitan News-Enterprise.)

Aerial snooping for property taxes

“A new high-tech aerial photography system that can spot an illegal porch from 5,000 feet is being marketed to tax assessors as a way to grow revenue.” Backers say the system can help assessors spot not only unauthorized building additions but also cases in which taxpayers claim farmstead exemptions but aren’t farming enough of their land to qualify. (Richard Degener, “Taxes could get sky-high with aerial technology”, Press of Atlantic City, Sept. 29).


More things it would be better to avoid doing if you’re a lawyer:

  • Claim to be assetless and thus unable to make restitution for the largest theft of state money in Massachusetts history even though you live in a $1.5 million Florida house with a $70K BMW and other goodies [Boston Herald, Globe, disbarred attorney Richard Arrighi]
  • Botch appeals and then refrain from telling clients their cases have been lost [Clifford Van Syoc, reprimanded by New Jersey high court; NJLJ; seven years ago]
  • Attempt to deduct “more than $300,000 in prostitutes, p0rn, sex toys and erotic massages” on your income tax returns, even if you are “thought of as a good tax lawyer” [NY Post] Nor ought you to accept nude dances from a client as partial payment for legal fees [Chicago Tribune; for an unrelated tale of a purportedly consensual lap dance given by secretary to partner, see NYLJ back in April]
  • Introduce a patent application purportedly signed in part by someone who in fact had been dead for a year or two [ Recorder, Chicago’s Niro, Scavone, Haller & Niro, of blog-stalking fame, client’s patent declared unenforceable] Or pursue a patent-infringement case based on what a federal judge later ruled to be a “tissue of lies” [NYLJ; New York law firm Abelman, Frayne & Schwab and lawyer David Jaroslawicz, ordered to pay opponents’ legal fees; earlier mentions of Jaroslawicz at this site here, here, here, and here]
  • Demand ransom for a stolen Leonardo da Vinci painting [biggest U.K. art theft ever, all defendants have pleaded not guilty, LegalWeek via ABA Journal]

Do as we say dept.: Rep. Rangel on taxes

While the commentariat is gripped by discussion of whether Gov. Sarah Palin should have cut personal travel expenses only by 68 percent compared with her predecessor as Alaska’s chief executive, or by some higher amount, maybe it’s worth pausing a moment to note that the dean of New York’s Congressional delegation — and the most powerful figure in Congress in charge of tax legislation! — has just been caught not paying his taxes.

More: Turns out tax compliance is hard. Who knew?

Great moments in Continuing Legal Education

They instruct the people who are supposed to instruct the rest of us how to comply with the law, but they can’t figure it out themselves:

New Jersey’s biggest purveyor of legal education has notified 15,000 customers that they may owe years of back taxes.

The Institute of Continuing Legal Education recently learned it should have been charging sales tax on the books, CDs, videotapes and audiotapes it sells and is working with the state to try to collect the money. …

[ICLE Executive Director Lawrence] Maron says ICLE was operating on the basis of a legal opinion, which turned out to be wrong, that, as a nonprofit entity, it did not have to collect sales tax. …

[New Brunswick, N.J. solo attorney Ann] Kiernan says she particularly resents that ICLE plans to turn over a list of who bought what to the state but has not offered to give lawyers information about their own past purchases.

(Mary Pat Gallagher, “CLE Customers Told They Have to Pay Back Taxes on Products”, New Jersey Law Journal, Jul. 11).

Sorry, we’re not going to raise your neighbors’ taxes

Attorney Steven Irwin of Monmouth County, N.J., whose specialty is tax appeals, is apparently not trying to win any neighborhood popularity contests: he argued to the county tax board that his neighbors weren’t paying their fair share and that their property taxes should be raised as much as fourfold. The board unanimously ruled against him without comment; an assessor had testified that a couple of the neighbors had carried out major improvements, but only after the official cut-off date for taking such improvements into account in the tax valuation. (Bob Jordan, “Man loses try to hike neighbors’ taxes”, Asbury Park Press, Jul. 2; “Belmar man loses bid to boost neighbors’ property taxes”, AP/Newark Star-Ledger, Jul. 2).

Welcome Slate/MSNBC readers

Daniel Gross reports on a doughty band of tax protesters who insist that they are not actually obliged by law to engage in payroll tax withholding, and quotes our editor as describing this position as arising from “folk law”, in the form of legal claims that “bubbled up without any encouragement from the legal profession.” (“America’s Oddest Tax Dodge – Can Section 861 of the Internal Revenue Code save you from income taxes?”, Slate/MSNBC, Jul. 30).