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…
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.
The Senate confirmed Elena Kagan to become the fourth woman ever to sit on the Supreme Court bench and marks the first time there have been three female Supreme Court justices at one time. 63 yea, 37 nay.
For more information, click here.
The Supreme Court of the United States recently decided a case that is counterintuitive at first glance. In order for a suspect to invoke their right to remain silent and end any interrogation, they must verbally say that they are going to remain quiet. While this may seem like a drastic change, it may also be viewed as an alignment with a suspect’s other 5th Amendment right to attorney which must be verbally invoked in order for an interrogation to cease. This 5-4 decision is in favor of the police and allows officers conducting interrogations to continue those interrogations until they are explicitly told by the suspect that he/she wants to remain silent. There is less chance for error that a police officer will interpret a suspects silence one way while the suspect himself will interpret it another way, resulting in a question of admissibility of anything divulged during an interrogation. However, this decision runs counter to Miranda, so it is anyone’s guess as to the overall impact moving forward. To learn more, please read here.