Annotations 03/2013

(plaintiffs, environmentalist activist groups, challenge defendant's decision to sell four oil and gas leases for approximately 2,700 acres of federal land in two CA counties by seeking summary judgment on basis that leases were sold in violation of NEPA and Mineral Leasing Act of 1920; defendant also sought summary judgment; court determined that defendant violated NEPA with respect to environmental assessment of leases by unreasonably relying on earlier scenario that consider impact of hydraulic fracturing techniques ("fracking") when used in combination with horizontal drilling; defendant had determined that there would be no significant environmental impact and did not prepare environmental impact statement; court held that such position was erroneous as a matter of law; court ordered parties to determine next step for solution). 


(decedent's spouse was U.S. resident but citizen of Bolivia; under I.R.C. Sec. 2056, non-U.S. citizenship of surviving spouse bars decedent's estate from receiving marital deduction for property passive to surviving spouse unless U.S. citizenship obtained before estate tax return filed; executor's legal counsel advised late filing of return could be undertaken without incurring penalty to permit surviving spouse to obtain U.S. citizenship; estate tax timely paid in amount due if marital deduction inapplicable, but return filed late (even after receiving six month extension); IRS imposed penalty on late-filed return and estate sought refund; refund disallowed and IRS position upheld; Treas. Reg. Sec. 20.2056A-1(b) allows a marital deduction for resident alien spouse who becomes U.S. citizen before late return is filed, but does not grant relief from late filing penalty;  legal counsel's advice was not interpretation of substantive tax law and could not constitute reasonable cause for delay in filing estate tax return beyond time of surviving spouse becoming naturalized citizen; estate tax return actually filed nine months after surviving spouse became naturalized U.S. citizen - maximum late-filing penalty imposed). 


(petitioner was real estate agent, broker and instructor of real estate licensing classes in addition to financial planner and insurance agent; petitioner failed to file income tax returns and didn't pay tax; petitioner filed Tax Court petition, but court upheld determinations of IRS including penalties; petitioner filed appeal and also filed bankruptcy during pendency of appeal; automatic stay inapplicable to case because Tax Court petition is independent judicial proceeding initiated by debtor; decision agrees with decisions of the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 11th Circuits, but is opposite to a decision of the 9th Circuit).


(plaintiffs, online retailers, claim that NY statute subjecting internet sales in excess of $10,000 cumulative during previous four quarterly periods to taxation is facially unconstitutional in violation of Commerce Clause because it subjects online retailers without physical presence in state to NY sales and compensating use tax, and also violates Due Process Clause;  court noted that with respect to facial challenges plaintiff must show that tax is unconstitutional on its face and that statute will be presumed constitutional; court noted that resident of NY would be compensated for referrals resulting in purchases under plaintiff's program and court presumed that some of those solicited would reside in NY; dissent noted that court's decision completely contrary to established U.S. Supreme Court precedent set forth in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992) and other cases; dissent noted that while solicitation of customers for retailer by in-state sales representatives counts as physical presence, even where the sales representatives are independent contractors, but mere advertising by out-of-state retailer in in-state media does not count as physical presence; dissent reasoned that NY-based websites affiliated with plaintiffs are not the equivalent of sales agents that solicit business for the plaintiffs, but are merely media in which plaintiffs advertise their products; dissent noted that no website owner promoted the plaintiffs because potential customers can simply go to the plaintiffs' websites directly  - media is not the same thing as having an in-state sales force and the presumption that every website having an agreement to carry a link to the plaintiffs' website does not make website a sales agent of plaintiffs and is contrary to rule that advertising in in-state media does not equate to physical presence; dissent would hold that statute unconstitutional under Commerce Clause). 


(court imposed injunction against defendant's preparer regulations and creation of Registered Tax Return Preparer that must pass a "competency" test and complete 15 hours of CE annually and pay annual fee).


(petitioner, an architect, purchased farmland and associated farmhouse in 1976 and rented out the land separate from the farmhouse; attempts to rent the farmhouse were unfruitful and farmhouse never rented for cash; various family members lived in the farmhouse over the years in exchange for improvements made to farmhouse; petitioner claimed deductions associated with the farmhouse which IRS denied; issue before court was whether deductions allowable under either I.R.C. Secs. 212 or 162; petitioners failed to present evidence that they incurred claimed expenses; no deductions allowed under Sec. 162 because petitioner failed to establish existence of real estate rental business; no deduction allowed under Sec. 212 because petitioner failed to establish that farmhouse held for production of income; no evidence that value of services for improvements to farmhouse approximated fair rental value; potential application of I.R.C. Sec. 280A not in issue; accuracy-related penalty not imposed). 


(driver sought review of citation given for driving on public highway while using special dyed (nontaxed) fuel; driver argued his International Harvester truck was an off-road vehicle based on modifications and its current design and use; court agreed current use of truck was for transportation of people or property on public roads; court also found significant that driver was not using his vehicle for the allowed purpose at the time of citation as he admitted he was moving supplies from one location of his farm to another). 


(case involves dispute under state (MI) drainage law that authorizes county road commission to petition county drain commission to lay out and designate drainage district, locate and establish drain, clean out, widen, deepen, straighten or extend established drain if it is necessary for construction or maintenance of highway to take surplus water across adjacent lands; petition filed on behalf of county road commission in accordance with statute with county drain commission; trial court invalidated petition on basis that county road commission not property petitioner because most road within proposed project not under commission's jurisdiction and party actually filing petition on behalf of county not authorized; plaintiff's request for injunctive and declaratory relief granted; trial court's ruling affirmed on appeal). 


(identity theft, phishing, return preparer fraud, hiding income offshore, "free money" from the IRS and Social Security tax scams, impersonation of charitable organizations, false or inflated income and expenses, false Form 1099 refund claims, frivolous arguments, falsely claiming zero wages, disguised corporate ownership, misuse of trusts).


(case involves dispute under state (MI) drainage law that authorizes county road commission to petition county drain commission to lay out and designate drainage district, locate and establish drain, clean out, widen, deepen, straighten or extend established drain if it is necessary for construction or maintenance of highway to take surplus water across adjacent lands; petition filed on behalf of county road commission in accordance with statute with county drain commission; trial court invalidated petition on basis that county road commission not property petitioner because most road within proposed project not under commission's jurisdiction and party actually filing petition on behalf of county not authorized; plaintiff's request for injunctive and declaratory relief granted; trial court's ruling affirmed on appeal).


(IRS provides transitional relief for eligible employers wanting to claim the WOTC by providing until Apr. 29, 2013 to file necessary form for claiming WOTC for eligible workers; extension of time is beyond the 28-day deadline contained in I.R.C. Sec. 51(d)(13) for submission of IRS Form 8850; thus employer hiring qualified employee other than qualified veteran on or after 1/1/12 and on or before 3/31/13 has until 4/29/13 to submit Form 8850; for qualified veterans hired on or after 1/1/13 and on or before 3/31/13, Form 8850 must be submitted by 4/29/13). 


(plaintiff brought suit that agency’s letters regarding Clean Water Act and municipal water systems written to Senator were rulemaking in violation of Administrative Procedures Act (APA); court held plaintiff had sufficient standing to bring claim; court agreed with 9th Circuit precedents that no deference should be granted to agency when determining whether APA has been followed and de novo review should be given in determining whether agency action was legislative rulemaking imposing new rights or duties requiring notice and comment procedures versus interpretive rules which state what the agency thinks the statute means and reminds affected parties of existing duties; court held agency has no preexisting legal norm or lawfully promulgated legislative rule supplying the basis for the agency’s prohibition on bacteria mixing zones, which violated APA in bypassing notice and comment procedures; likewise the agency’s new blending rule was also in violation of APA for same reasons; court also granted plaintiff’s request to strike down agency’s blending rule as exceeding its statutory scope by imposing secondary treatment regulations on flows within facilities even if APA rulemaking followed; issue remanded to agency for further consideration).


(plaintiff brought suit that agency’s letters regarding Clean Water Act and municipal water systems written to Senator were rulemaking in violation of Administrative Procedures Act (APA); court held plaintiff had sufficient standing to bring claim; court agreed with 9th Circuit precedents that no deference should be granted to agency when determining whether APA has been followed and de novo review should be given in determining whether agency action was legislative rulemaking imposing new rights or duties requiring notice and comment procedures versus interpretive rules which state what the agency thinks the statute means and reminds affected parties of existing duties; court held agency has no preexisting legal norm or lawfully promulgated legislative rule supplying the basis for the agency’s prohibition on bacteria mixing zones, which violated APA in bypassing notice and comment procedures; likewise the agency’s new blending rule was also in violation of APA for same reasons; court also granted plaintiff’s request to strike down agency’s blending rule as exceeding its statutory scope by imposing secondary treatment regulations on flows within facilities even if APA rulemaking followed; issue remanded to agency for further consideration).


(petitioner was family business corporation operated by family members with over 80 employees that was wholesale distributor of animal health products for large animals, lawn and garden products, farm hardware, pet supplies and products for farm stores and related dealers; family patriarch was sole shareholder and decided compensation for family members and employees; petitioner showed gross profit of $9 million and taxable income of $100,000 with expenses being salaries of family members and property rentals; IRS claimed that compensation was excessive based on comparability factors; on gross profit of $9 million, only $30,000 in dividends paid, and salary of $200,000 paid to patriarch's wife who was vice president , secretary and CFO who worked 30-hour week; court upheld IRS determination that all family members over-compensated and adjusted salaries and deductions accordingly).


(trustee filed adversary complaint against debtor in Chapter 7 bankruptcy alleging concealment of assets and information; after trial court held debtor’s discharge should be denied; debtor hid assets by concealing his interest in a business titled in debtor’s wife’s name; debtor intentionally concealed his interest in the business from creditors and concealed his interest post-petition; court convinced debtor played a significant role in wife’s business particularly because wife gave birth to second child during time company farmed 700 acres and debtor supposedly watched tv and went fishing; funds from business were often transferred to wife’s account and used to support family expenses; because of debtor’s contributions and benefits from business, court held debtor had equitable interest in business and debtor hid this interest from his creditors and the trustee with intent to hinder, delay, or defraud his creditors; discharge denied). 


(plaintiff brought court action after agency declined plaintiff’s petition to promulgate regulations condemning force-fed foie gras as an adultered food product; court held plaintiff challenging agency’s scientific conclusion, which agency has different viewpoint; scientific conclusions are within purview of agency decisions and because no legal issue exists, defendant’s motion for judgment on pleadings granted; case dismissed). 


(separate farm corporations appeal district court decision that splitting parcels previously individually identified but uniformly enrolled in state agricultural land violated easement’s prohibition on subdivision of land; district court affirmed based on Stitzel v. Maryland, 6 A.3d 935 (Md. Ct. App. 2010) which held that conveyance of portion of land subject to agricultural preservation easement was subdivision even though land had been separate before becoming part of preservation program; because Stitzel facts were “on all fours with this one”, subdivision was a violation).


(Chapter 12 debtors second amended confirmation plan denied by court because property distributed less than allowed amount of creditor’s claim; dispute regarding extent of creditor’s claim to property; questions still to be addressed regarding whether debtor has sufficient income to fund a confirmable plan; debtor given opportunity to amend plan to conform with decision, but if future amended plan is denied, case to be dismissed without further hearing). 


(creditor claims that debtor willfully and maliciously sold collateral at auction and failed to remit proceeds to creditor and, as such, debtor's debt not eligible for discharge under 11 U.S.C. Sec. 523(a)(6); FDIC took over initial creditor that had properly perfected security interest in collateral; FDIC then transferred security interest to second creditor who then transferred it to third creditor; debtor failed to make required annual payment  and then learned of inability to lease large amount of land that debtor had previously leased; debtor sold collateral at public auction without creditor's approval and paid off another creditor's lien with net proceeds paid to debtor to pay living and miscellaneous expenses; court determined that while third creditor entitled to net proceeds of sale, such failure to remit by debtor not willful nor malicious - purpose of sale was to reduce debt to a creditor, sale not hidden, debtor honestly never considered third creditor having an interest in the collateral at issue, third creditor's subordination agreement confusing; debtor's conduct merely a technical conversion and not willful nor malicious; debtor entitled to discharge). 


(environmentalism advocacy group sought citizen enforcement of Clean Water Act in case in which it argued that runoff from logging roads in Tillamook State Forest required federal NPDES permit under CWA; government argued that logging operations were not industrial and that temporary nature of operations did not require permits; trial court dismissed group's claims on basis that road/ditch/culvert system was not "point source" pollutant requiring NDPES permit; Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed; U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari; government regulatory agency clarified its administrative rules after Ninth Circuit opinion, so Court required to determine jurisdiction issues; Court held statute permitted citizen suit to enforce proper interpretation of rule; Court also held issue was not moot because determining issue under prior administrative rules in favor of environmental group could require penalties to be assessed to logging operations, so groups could still have remedies; in interpreting prior administrative rule, Court deferred to agency interpretation of its administrative rules; Court upheld deference that agency’s interpretation need not be the best interpretation so long as it was not plainly erroneous; therefore, no permitting required for temporary logging operations that were not industrial; dissent filed by Scalia called for re-evaluation of Auer v. Robbins, 519 U.S. 452 (1997), which gives deference to agency interpretation of its own rules; dissent argued that allowing deference to government agencies in interpreting statutes was separate than allowing agencies to issue vague and broad rules that retain flexibility to later clarify retroactively and that agencies should be required to write clear rules and any interpretation that is different than the fairest reading is inconsistent with the regulation). 


(taxpayer sought refund for “theft” loss after losing investment money from company that went bankrupt after selling tandem investments and unsecured promissory notes in violation of state law governing “securities”; IRS denied plaintiffs refund claim and plaintiffs brought suit; summary judgment motion brought on issue of whether theft loss occurred; court disclaimed legal notion that “theft” under in section 165(c)(3) is dependent on state law and that it means “the fraudulent taking of property belonging to another from his possession, or from the possession of some person holding the same for him, without his consent, with the intent to deprive the owner of the value of the same, and to appropriate it to the use or benefit of the person taking”; in determining the issue, four questions must be answered: whether the conduct in question constitutes a theft, whether the theft loss was discovered the year the deduction is claims, whether in the year discovered, there was still a reasonable prospect of recovering funds lost, and the amount of loss; court determined factual questions existed regarding the four questions, so summary judgment denied).


(plaintiffs claimed deduction for carryover passive activity losses incurred by S corporation; plaintiffs were passive investors in S corporation; while state (MN) law recognizes deduction for net operating losses (including carryover amounts), MN law does not recognize losses for passive activity losses).


(appeal of land use board’s decision to approve conditional use permit for 44 events at winery as farm-use-related commercial activity; appellate court affirmed board’s approval; court found significant conditions placed on winery requiring events be directly related to sale of wine produced, income be 25 percent or less of gross income, limitations on number of guests, and annual reporting requirements to ensure food-service activities remain incidental and secondary to processing and sale of wine). 


(plaintiff, tobacco farmer, appeals administrative ruling denying his claim for tornado damage to his tobacco crop; court affirmed agency decision because no evidence existed that notice of the loss was made within required 72 hours, nor was there written confirmation of any oral notice made within 15 days; claim properly denied). 


(plaintiff, tobacco farmer, appeals administrative ruling denying his claim for tornado damage to his tobacco crop; court affirmed agency decision because no evidence existed that notice of the loss was made within required 72 hours, nor was there written confirmation of any oral notice made within 15 days; claim properly denied). 


(plaintiff obtained shares of stock upon demutualization of insurance company; plaintiff later sold shares of stock and defendant asserted that plaintiff's income tax basis in stock was zero triggering 100 percent gain on sale of shares; court rejected defendant's position, and set forth computation for calculating basis in stock shares received upon demutualization; court grounded computation of stock basis in manner in which insurance company determined value of demutualized shares for initial public offering (IPO) for purposes of determining how many shares to issue to a policyholder; based on that analysis, court noted that company calculated fixed component for lost voting rights based on one vote per policy holder and variable component for other rights lost based on shareholder's past and anticipated future contributions to company's surplus; court estimated that 60 percent of plaintiff's past contributions were to surplus and 40 percent was for future contributions to surplus which plaintiff had not actually yet paid before receiving shares and are not part of stock basis; thus, plaintiff's basis in stock comprised of fixed component for giving up voting rights and 60 percent of variable component representing past contributions to surplus; end result was the plaintiff's stock basis is slightly over 60 percent of IPO value of stock).


(petitioner was lawyer and non-custodial parent of children; petitioner not allowed child tax credit and additional child tax credit for year in which children lived with former spouse who had custody because children not "qualifying" children in accordance with I.R.C. Sec. 152(c); no dependency exemption allowed for same tax year because no attached Form 8283 to return or other written declaration of exemption release from former spouse and divorce decree not signed by former spouse; no deduction for telephone expenses allowed attributable to petitioner's business due to lack of substantiation; other claimed business deductions associated with law practice denied due to lack of substantiation; no charitable deduction due to lack of contemporaneous written acknowledgement for contributions above $250; no DPAD allowed for grading and surveying expenses on property claimed to be held for timber harvesting because no timber harvested and, hence, property didn't generate any gross receipts or QPAI; medical expense deductions associated with in vitro fertilization treatments denied for lack of proof that petitioner sterile; deduction denied for payment of child's college tuition and fees due to lack of substantiation; no business mileage deduction allowed due to lack of substantiation; partial deduction allowed for expenses attributable to office in the home - partial denial due to lack of substantiation).


(issue presented to appellate court as a question reserved after prosecution dismissed based on Privileges or Immunities clause of Fourteenth Amendment of U.S. Constitution; Colorado resident who was legally authorized to use marijuana for medical reasons visited family and friends in Kansas and was in possession of marijuana discovered at traffic stop in Kansas, where possession of marijuana is not authorized; appellate court held enforcement of state statute does not violate limited federal rights protected under Privileges and Immunities clause; state argued only right to become a resident of a state and be treated like other citizen of that state is federally protected in clause; because facts of case were inapposite of this right, issue presented is outside scope of a proper inquiry for a question reserved and court declined to comment on additional questions of federal right to travel or other constitutional rights or challenges that might be raised as a defense). 


(the plaintiff, a minor represented by his legal guardian, was denied a first-time homebuyer tax credit (FTHBC); the plaintiff received proceeds from settlement of lawsuit arising from medical complications at birth that left plaintiff handicapped; guardian appointed to handle settlement proceeds and received court approval to loan some settlement proceeds to plaintiff's parents for purposes of refinancing mortgage, but lender would not accept payment from guardian; guardian then purchased home and sold it to plaintiff and claimed FTHBC on plaintiff's return; Tax Court viewed transaction as plaintiff buying home from plaintiff's parents and, with no statutory analysis, disallowed credit as a related party transaction (note:  the statutory language of I.R.C. Sec. 36(c) does not bar FMV purchases from related persons; only prohibition is acquisition of homes via inheritance or gift); appellate court affirmed on basis that evidence didn't support plaintiff's argument that lender wouldn't accept payment from plaintiff, and guardian used plaintiff's funds to buy home rather than plaintiff's such that investment purpose not supported; burden of proof not shifted to IRS). 


(will contest case; while will being contested, state (WA) legislature amended slayer statutes to disinherit persons who financially abuse vulnerable adults; estate administrator sought trial court determination concerning disinheritance of decedent's second wife whom he married in 1997 when he was 85 (decedent remarried after first wife died in 1993); second wife 50 years younger than decedent; decedent agreed before marriage to pay second wife $100,000 toward her education and another $300,000 to $350,000 as a "nest egg"; decedent's will left entire probate estate to second wife except for $55,000; decedent's children given right of first refusal to certain real estate if second wife decided to sell it; decedent also named second wife as a personal representative and amended his trust for second wife's benefit and transferred securities to her along with large cash gifts to her family members and transferring funds from couple's joint checking account to second wife's personal account; record unclear as to whether decedent suffered dementia at time will signed in 2006 (at age 94); decedent's children challenged will on testamentary capacity grounds; trial court invalidated will as product of undue influence; appellate court affirmed; slayer statute then amended (approximately one year after decedent's death) and trial court refused to apply the changes retroactively; that finding reversed on appeal and case remanded to determine whether trial court's findings of financial exploitation sufficient to determine if second wife abuser under statute; issue in present case is whether second wife is financial abuser under statute and not entitled to benefit under decedent's will; statute effective in July of 2009, but purpose of statute is to bar distribution of property to financial abuser; triggering event of application of statute is attempt by abuser to receive property or benefit from estate of abused person; before probate, second wife did not have vested right to inheritance so no retroactive effect of statute because second wife's interests only vested upon completion of probate; no violation of ex post facto clause of U.S. Constitution; dissent believed intent of legislature in amending slayer statute was to bar elder abuse rather than disinherit unworthy heirs). 


(6,682 acres sold at auction via auction company; sale brochure delivered to plaintiff said that defendant seller would convey certain mineral rights along with the real estate; plaintiff relied on representations in brochure and paid $8.9 million for the land and mineral rights advertised in brochure and purchase agreement executed same day; purchase agreement contained integration clause stating that final bids subject to sellers' acceptance or rejection, and that seller warranted that they were selling 100 percent of their ownership in the mineral rights being sold; all real estate sold "as is"; transaction closed and two years later, plaintiff discovered it had not acquired mineral rights; mineral rights were actually owned by separate branch of seller’s family that had transferred them to an LLC which then leased them to another entity in return for bonus lease payments and future royalty payments; buyer’s attorneys did not conduct mineral title search ; plaintiff sued for breach of warranty deed and seisin, breach of purchase agreement, breach of auction sale agreement, fraud, reformation of purchase agreement and specific performance; and defendant moved to dismiss claim based on breach of auction sale agreement and court granted motion because purchase agreement's integration clause was clear and unambiguous and barred separate contract action based on earlier oral or written assurances not incorporated into purchase agreement and neither alleged oral agreement or auction brochure incorporated into purchase agreement; auction brochure stated that purchase agreement controlled terms of sale; plaintiff can pursue contract remedy for breach of purchase agreement; on fraud claim that defendant's held themselves out as owning mineral rights that they promised to convey (plaintiff claimed that the family of sellers represented that actual part of the family that sold the land held mineral rights, but they actually did not (it was the non-contracting members of the family that held the mineral rights)); defendant’s motion to dismiss claim of fraud in inducement denied; defendant's motion for judgment on pleadings with respect to reformation and specific performance of purchase agreement claims denied).


(petitioner is a professional golfer that is a resident of Switzerland; petitioner entered into endorsement agreement with a sponsor allowing the sponsor to use petitioner's image, name and voice in return for petitioner performing personal services for the sponsor; petitioner and sponsor allocated 85 percent of petitioner's compensation to royalties and 15 percent to personal services; petitioner created LLC in U.S. to receive royalty payments and pay a portion of the royalties to another LLP established in Switzerland; petitioner did not pay tax on royalty payments, but did pay tax on personal service payments; court readjusted allocation such that it was attributable 65 percent royalties and 35 percent personal services; royalty income exempt from U.S. taxation via treaty with Switzerland; personal services payments subject to U.S. taxation).


(district court upheld magistrate judge ruling staying proceedings and holding that arbitration required for dispute between seed company and purchasers under terms of contract received and accepted by purchasers; arbitration of non-purchaser plaintiffs complaints also required because purchasers of seed acted as agents for nonpurchasers; nonpurchasers also held to arbitration agreement because they sought to enforce rights under seed sale contract, thus they were estopped from picking and choosing enforcement of provisions in contract).


(based on nine-factor analysis, petitioner failed to engage in horse breeding activity with objective of making profit; activity not conducted in business-like manner, petitioner did have requisite expertise in activity and did put sufficient time into the activity, appreciation in value factor neutral, petitioner did not have success in similar activities on previous occasions, petitioner had losses for 17 straight years from activity, petitioner never had any profit from the activity, petitioner had substantial income from his accounting firm and enjoyed the activity; substantial understatement penalty imposed).


(competing summary judgment motions regarding priority in proceeds of liquidation sale; defendant argued collateral owned by individuals as debtors rather than their corporation as debtor; court held for plaintiff because property traced to corporation, signed financial disclosures identified corporation, defendant conceded property owned by corporation, and auction receipt identified corporation as owner of property).


(court overturned district court order finding for energy company and dismissal of landowner's claims against energy company for placement of additional pipelines across his parcel without his approval; court held easement over defendant's land did not cover entire parcel and remanded for finding of scope of easement; court did uphold finding that defendant not entitled to arbitrarily reject payment for pipe to be placed on easement and remanded for factual determination of "like consideration"; court reinstated defendant's trespass claims against company because pipe underground is a continuing trespass; court also reinstate claim of ejectment because terms deny defendant right to use and possess portion of land upon which energy company is trespassing because defendant cannot construct anything over pipelines that are trespassing).


(competing summary judgment motions regarding priority in proceeds of liquidation sale; defendant argued collateral owned by individuals as debtors rather than their corporation as debtor; court held for plaintiff because property traced to corporation, signed financial disclosures identified corporation, defendant conceded property owned by corporation, and auction receipt identified corporation as owner of property).


(court overturned grant of summary judgment in favor of oil drillers; "calculate and pay" clause in oil contract was ambiguous regarding whether overriding royalties were suspended along with government's interest under Deep Water Royalty Relief Act; case remanded for factual inquiry regarding intent of parties; dissent filed stating provision was not ambiguous and royalties should be suspended).


(petitioner claimed deductible travel expenses for business trips away from home; IRS disallowance of deductions upheld because home not principal place of business and trips not away from home; meal expenses also disallowed because not incurred in travel away from the home; travel log did not substantiate deductions and was not prepared contemporaneously).


(petitioner used various automobiles in real estate business and claimed that they were used 100 percent for business purposes; one vehicle, a Hummer, was purchased in 2006 for $34,799; petitioner, inexplicably, claimed $56,000 of depreciation on Hummer in 2006 via I.R.C. Sec. 179; petitioner ceased using Hummer for business use in 2007, and IRS claimed that petitioner had depreciation recapture of $53,200 for 2007; Hummer is listed property in accordance with I.R.C. Sec. 280F(d)(4)(A), so Hummer subject to recapture in any year that business use falls below 50 percent; petitioner failed to present sufficient evidence to shift burden of proof under I.R.C. Sec. 7491(a)(2) and failed to prove that he was not subject to depreciation recapture because he failed to substantiate use of Hummer that exceeded 50 percent during 2007).


(charitable contributions denied due to lack of contemporaneous written acknowledgment and statement that donor did not receive any goods or services in return for contributions; substantial compliance doctrine inapplicable). 


(decedent owned fractional interests in artwork at time of death that had been placed in GRIT, but had signed an agreement waiving his right to file partition action; decedent survived 10-year term of GRIT with decedent's undivided interest passing equally to decedent's three children with each child receiving 16.67 percent interest in artworks; decedent's spouse died before end of GRIT with her undivided 50 percent interest in the artwork passing to decedent; decedent disclaimed sufficient amount of interest in artwork to optimize use of unified credit so as to pass disclaimed portion to children without estate tax; decedent then entered into agreement with children giving up his right to partition; waiver of such right disregarded for valuation purposes under I.R.C. Sec. 2703(a)(2) - provision states that property value to be determined without regard to any restriction on right to sell or use property; exception from I.R.C. Sec. 2703(a)(2) contained in I.R.C. Sec. 2703(b) held inapplicable; court applied 10 percent discount to pro-rata value of artworks due to uncertainties concerning their value associated with children's intentions concerning the artwork). 


(court held State of Texas had committed a "takings" in regards to endangered whopping cranes in violation of the Endangered Species Act through its failure to not monitor users or exercise emergency powers available to protect the cranes; enjoined Texas Commission on Environmental Quality from granting new water permits affecting Guadalupe or San Antonio Rivers  as federal law preempts Texas water diversion regulations; agency and its officers required within 30 days to seek an Incidental Take Permit that will lead to development of a Habit Conservation Plan; court retained jurisdiction over this action during the formulation of the HCP process; court also awarded attorneys' and expert witness fees to plaintiff as prevailing party). 


(plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment denied due to questions of fact on claims related to Plant Variety protection Act, Lanham Act violations and breach of contract for sales of turf grass after agreement terminated defendants' ability to sell TifBlair brand turf grass).


(petitioner and spouse divorced and ex-spouse awarded $3,000 monthly in "family support" without the court distinguishing between alimony or child support; petitioner claims entire amount is deductible as alimony; state (CA) law provides that family support terminates on death of payee spouse, so IRS argument that I.R.C. Sec. 71(b)(1)(D) applies not applicable; under I.R.C. Sec. 71(c)(1)(a), taxable portion inapplicable to any part of any payment which the terms of the divorce or separation instrument fix as a sum payable for support of payor's children; court noted that support order made unallocated award of spousal and child support and didn't "fix" any portion of support payments as sum payable for support of petitioner's children for purposes of I.R.C. Sec. 71(c)(1); deduction upheld and accuracy-related penalty denied).


(United States Citizenship and Immigration Services announces new Form I-9 which must be implemented by employers by May 7, 2013; new form contains new format and incorporates additional data fields along with six pages of instructions; the new form is available here: http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf ). 


(unemployment rate decreased to 7.7 percent during February; 236,000 net new jobs created, but labor-force declined by 300,000; employment/population ratio remained unchanged at 58.6 percent and labor force participation rate declined to 63.5 percent, the lowest level in more than 30 years; revisions to December and January reports subtracted a net 15,000 jobs; record 47,791,996 persons on Food Stamps; total amount of persons not in labor force is 89,304,000 - a new record high; 296,000 fewer persons are employed since the beginning of 2013; unemployment rate 51 percent higher than what Administration promised it would be if 2009 "stimulus" package passed, and 40 percent higher than what Administration promised unemployment would be if 2009 "stimulus" package not passed). 


(court affirmed district court ruling upholding township regulations that prevented animal confinement from obtaining permits it sought for livestock manure pipeline; court held township had concurrent jurisdiction over public roads without county and because county had not exercised jurisdiction at time regulations enacted by township governing the road, township had authority over township roads; township also had authority to enact regulations to prevent livestock wastes from polluting township; state statute did not expressly preempt governance over livestock operations nor did statute intend to preempt the field of regulation).


(decedent died with a gross estate of almost $39.5 million; her estate paid estate and inheritance taxes of almost $22 million; suit was brought against attorney who drafted estate documents for malpractice; court held that claim did not arise until after decedent’s death; because it did not accrue until after decedent’s death, claim not viable under state’s survival statute; suit dismissed).


(plaintiffs are a class of neighbors living within 1.25 miles of defendant’s 500,000-head swine operation that raises swine from juveniles to market-ready adults; plaintiffs complain of smell associated with defendant’s operation that created alleged emotional and physical injuries, declining property values and water contamination; defendant operated pursuant to state permits that plaintiffs failed to successfully challenge before bringing nuisance, trespass and negligence claims; class certified on common questions of whether defendant created a temporary and/or permanent nuisance, committed a trespass, breached a duty toward their neighbors and whether defendant’s conduct amounted to a nuisance per se; case originally filed in state court, but removed to federal court under Class Action Fairness Act; court later denied multiple motions to intervene filed by multiple insurance companies because motions not timely filed; present action involved various motions to exclude opinions and testimony of several expert witnesses). 


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