On September 7, 2010 the Obama administration proposed a new tax program addressing capital investments. Under the proposal, US businesses would be allowed to deduct from their Federal taxes the full value of new equipment purchased through 2011. This proposal would build on the stimulus measures enacted in 2008 and 2009 allowing businesses to depreciate 50% of their capital investments. The Senate rejected this proposal, however, it did initiate two programs that may have an impact on business tax liability. First, rather than allowing 100% depreciation on new equipment purchased by businesses, the Senate reinstated the 50% depreciation bonus for 2010. Second, the Senate authorized an increase IRS Code Section (“Section”) 179 expensing levels to from $250,000 to $500,000 and the phase-out threshold amount from $800,000 to $2,000,000 for 2010 and 2011.
On September 28, 2010, Professor Steven Heyman, Attorney Mazen Asbahi and Professor Sheldon Nahmod participated in a panel discussion at Chicago-Kent College of Law on the “Ground Zero Mosque”–the proposed Islamic cultural center–in Manhattan.
It was sponsored by Kent’s Society of Law Students for Secularism (which organized the event) and co-sponsored by the Muslim Law Students Association, the National Lawyers Guild and the Institute for Law and Humanities.
Professor Nahmod spoke about the Religion Clauses and federal statutory law, Professor Heyman addressed the nature of the political discourse and Mr. Asbahi discussed the topic from an American Muslim perspective.
When the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of this year, the result will effectively be a tax hike on many Americans. Congress is now left with the decision of whether to extend the tax cuts and thereby determine who amongst us are the rich members of society and, therefore, not worthy of being absolved from the tax hike. Of course, since this is a slightly political issue, it is being left until after the midterm elections.
But it does raise an important question. How much income must be earned each year to be considered rich? Even more importantly, especially for young professionals saddled with student loan debt, should debt load be considered as a mitigating factor in determining a taxpayer’s tax bracket? Or should Congress reform the tax code to make it “simpler” and more straightforward in an effort to capture more tax and eliminate clever methods of tax avoidance? Read more…
One benefit of globalization is that businesses and people can more easily sell their goods and services in the world market. In the context of manufacturing, companies who export products to foreign countries are frequently required to modify their product lines to conform to foreign laws and standards. In some instances, manufacturers are compelled to produce two alternative products—one intended for domestic sale and the other for international. These alternative product designs, manufactured to comply with diverse safety requirements, may have direct repercussions to manufacturers in American courts related to products liability lawsuits.
In order to prove a design defect in products liability law, most jurisdictions in the United States rely on a risk-utility test as enunciated in the Restatement (Third) of Torts. The risk-utility test balances the degree of risk a certain design poses to consumers versus the utility of that design. Plaintiffs must prove that there are reasonable substitute designs for a product, and the risk imposed on the consumer outweighs any utility of the allegedly defective design.
On Wednesday, the 9th Circuit dismissed a case brought against a Boeing subsidiary for its alleged role in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. Five individuals arrested shortly after 9/11 brought the case against Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., alleging that the Boeing subsidiary conspired with the CIA to render them to foreign countries where they were tortured. Shortly after the suit was filed, the federal government stepped in asserting that the case must be dismissed to prevent the disclosure of state secrets. The sharply divided court of appeals issued a 6-5 en banc decision upholding the government’s assertion of the state secrets privilege. The court dismissed the case in its entirety, preventing the plaintiffs from proceeding with evidence that would not encroach upon state secrets. Ben Wizner, the ACLU attorney who represents the five men, plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.
“If this decision stands, the United States will have closed its courts to torture victims while extending complete immunity to its torturers,” Wizner said.
If the Supreme Court takes the case, all eyes will be on Justice Kennedy. Since Justice O’Connor retired in 2006, Justice Kennedy has been the primary swing vote on the Court. I will not try to predict how the Court might decide this issue, but there is a strong likelihood that the decision will come down to Justice Kennedy’s vote. I would not be surprised to see the Court take a middle position, allowing the plaintiffs’ suit to proceed but excluding all evidence that can be fairly characterized as a state secret.
I ran across the “Conveyance Interpreter” at Legal Blog Watch. What is the conveyance interpreter you ask? Well, for anyone who has suffered through the misery of trying to decipher complicated conveyances in Property, the conveyance interpreter may be a godsend. The conveyance interpreter, created by Prof. Shawn Bayern of Florida State College of Law, translates those complicated conveyances for you, explaining the property interests created in the conveyance and mapping out exactly how the conveyance works.
Here’s a simple conveyance I asked the interpreter to translate: “To A for life, then to B.”
And here is what the conveyance interpreter spat out:
1Ls might find this handy next spring, but don’t forget to actually learn conveyances because the interpreter isn’t going to take your finals for you.
As a new school year begins with new classes, new students, and a whole lot of new work, I thought it might be nice to provide a link to another law related blog that is insightful and interesting, Above the Law: A Legal Tabloid (www.abovethelaw.com). Yes, I know this is not an academic blog with in-depth articles written by the many skilled legal minds across the country. However, it provides a very honest and no BS approach to what new, and returning, law students should know about the profession that they have chose to dedicate their lives to for many years to come. If you want to know what firms are hiring or firing, what morale is like in many of the most prestigious firms, and the overall state of the legal market, Above the Law is the place to go. It is also a great place to go to get some quick information about the current legal decisions that are handed down by courts across the country. So, if you haven’t checked it out, take a quick look and share it with others if you like what you read.