Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cyber and Tax Battles

 The battle for the world is the battle for definitions.
— Thomas Szasz, who died on this date in 2012




Cities battle for cyber dollars
With cyber the new security frontier, Australian cities and ministers are pushing their claims as the big international vendors invest heavily in local infrastructure and skills.






How many consultants does government need? 
A stoush in NSW over ballooning fees to high priced consultants has again put the spot light on this perennial issue.


Sixth Circuit Rejects Law Prof's Claim That 'Satanic' $666 Merit Pay Raise Was Retaliation For His Union Activities


The overall objective of this review was to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of key ongoing or planned activities aimed at addressing the IRS operational challenge of replacing its aged hardware infrastructure.

Morgan Cloud (Emory) & George Shepherd (Emory) have posted Law Deans In Jail, 77 Mo. L. Rev. 931 (2012), on SSRN
A most unlikely collection of suspects — law schools, their deans, U.S. News & World Report and its employees — may have committed felonies by publishing false information as part of U.S. News' ranking of law schools. The possible federal felonies include mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, racketeering, and making false statements. Employees of law schools and U.S. News who committed these crimes can be punished as individuals, and under federal law the schools and U.S. News would likely be criminally liable for their agents' crimes.

How Apple and co became some of America’s largest debt collectors Financial Times. In passing, flogs bogus corporate propaganda that profits booked outside the US means cash is outside the US. Apple’s cash horde is held in US banks and managed as an internal hedge fund out of Nevada. 

Capitalism and Poverty Matt Bruenig, Jacobin (micael)
Class Clowns Jacobin
Britain's top tax body said a merged border force and tax checking operation will need 5,000 extra staff cost up £800m after Brexit.

David Hasen (Colorado), Taxation and Innovation: A Sectorial Approach, 2017 U. Ill. L. Rev. 1043:
A number of tax rules have been adopted or proposed to promote innovation. The primary justification for these rules is that they can be effective in reducing or eliminating chronic market failure in the innovation sector. This paper argues that special tax rules for innovation generally are inappropriate.

OECD Econ. Dep't Working Paper No. 1407, The Capacity of Governments to Raise Taxes:
This paper investigates the factors that shape governments’ capacity to collect revenue. 

Congress seems to be on an unceasing quest to undermine effective tax collection (for why I choose those words see my rant here).  In what can only be described as yet another boneheaded move,  Congress included a provision in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015 that required the Service to out-source collection work to private collection agencies (PCA's).

This Week in Popular: Top 25 Photos on 500px This Week (23)

Before 2015, Congress had twice pulled this move, each effort resulting in misery and failure.  The first time was in 1872.  Joe Thorndike recounts the ensuing disaster in a great 2004 article in Tax Notes.  The second time was in in 2004 in §881(e) of the American Jobs Creation Act, which created IRC §6306.  The Taxpayer Advocate Service's 2013 study showed how that effort sucked wind.

Congress should have listened to the classic Homer Simpson advice of "if at first you don't succeed...give up" But nooooooo.  Congress instead decided the problem was it had not been forceful enough.  So the 2015 legislation is more mandatory and broadens the scope of what the Service is supposed to let PCAs do.

Others have explained comprehensively why privatizing collection is extremely poor public policy.  Keith Fogg gave a really useful collection of reasons in a 2014 blog post, ironically titled "Private Debt Collection – An Idea 
Whose Time Will Never Come."   Here I would just point out the obvious problem:  the outsourcing creates the potential for massiveconfusion directed a the taxpayer population most vulnerable to that confusion.  The National Taxpayer Advocate has posted a really good report on that aspect of the program.


The very thin silver lining is that many practitioner groups and individuals have gathered at the site of the upcoming train wreck to render aid.  The National Taxpayer Advocate and her office has laid out all kinds of help for taxpayers in a page titled Private Debt Collection Program - What You Need to Know."   Sure, it's hard to find and it's buried under two layers of webpages, but hey, it's there.  And just because the taxpayers most likely subject to PCA's probably don't dive into the IRS website to find the TAS page, much less the subpages that have the help, does not mean the help may not be useful to some small portion who find their way to a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic or some other practitioner who might be more up on the issue.  Similarly, those readers who will be attending the ABA Tax Section Fall Meeting in Austin will find CLE on PCA's at 9:45 am on Saturday morning at the Pro 
Bono and Tax Clinic committee meeting.  Panelists there will be Nina Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate Josh Beck from TAS; Bill Banowsky from the IRS; and Mandi L. Matlock from Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid.

Other individuals are writing on this topic as well.  For example, Keith Fogg has an excellent post on how to help clients who are pursued by PCA's over at Procedurally Taxing earlier this year.  I am sure we will see more posts on Procedurally Taxing as the PCA's expand in scope.  Clint Locke (U. Ala. School of Accountancy) has posted an article here on various legal remedies taxpayers may have against improper collection from PCA's.  He goes over the relevant case law under both the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the IRC.

Senators propose 9/11-style commission on Russian interference The Hill (UserFriendly). Given how well that commission performed, that’s not a threat to anyone. 

The High Price of Overly Prescriptive HR Policies
Move away from rules and toward common sense (HBR)


What to do when a media release gets personal
I’m working in a media unit and I’ve been asked to develop a press release that incorporates some personal material that I think might be sensitive. What should I do?